I received this course for free to review and this post may contain affiliate links.
I am excited to share my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain.
Philip is the author of 25 books on prayer and spirituality, with a background in retreat work, spiritual direction, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, and biology. Philip works at the Heartland Center for Spirituality in Great Bend, KS, where he presents retreats, workshops, and provides spiritual direction. Visit his web site to learn more.
Before I begin let me share a few quotes from this wonderful course:
“The Christian tradition on prayer is very rich going back many centuries.”
“God meets us where we are!”
“Those who pray regularly have a sense of God’s presence and direction in their lives.”
Christian Prayer Methods is nicely divided into the following overviews:
- Prayer of Jesus, Paul and the early Christians
- Christian Prayer and Spirituality
- The Four Ingredients for Personal Prayer
- Praying with Scripture (Lectio Divina)
- Three Contemplative Prayer Methods
- Dealing with Distractions in Prayer
- Praying Attentively with Set Prayers
- Praying with Icons and Visual Art (Visio Divina)
- Combining Methods and Closure
Let me share what I found particularly interesting.
Jesus was a man of prayer. Jesus prayed frequently. It was not uncommon for him to pray the entire night. Jesus taught us that we are to go to our private room where we can be alone with God. (Matthew 6:6)
We are to use few words: silence. God is not impressed with our words. We are to ask in faith for things we need. We are to be persistent in prayer.
I practice centering prayer. Centering prayer is a contemplative prayer practice. I agree with Jesus. It is not always necessary to use words. We are to use few words when we pray: silent prayer. Centering prayer has transformed me! During centering prayer I sit in silence with Jesus. I arise from my sit refreshed and energized by the Spirit of God. I need this time with God!
Ingredients for Personal Prayer
Philip mentions that personal prayer has four ingredients. These are commitments that we must make during this special time of prayer.
Silence: Jesus says when we pray that we are not to use many words. Silence connects us to the Divine within. We learn how hear God when we become quiet.
Time: All relationships require time. Our relationship with God is no different. Try to schedule a time of twenty minutes per day to sit with God. Even five minutes is better than none. It is when we are the busiest that we are most in need of prayer. Sleep given up for prayer is usually not missed.
Solitude: Find a special place for prayer where you will be undisturbed by others. Physical silence helps us come to inner silence.
Openness to God: During prayer you open to God. You say, “Here I am God!” You don’t evaluate how your prayer time went. We seek God for God’s sake. Showing up is success in prayer.
I agree that you do not evaluate how your prayer time went. I sit with God because I love God! I am always amazed by the fruits of my prayer. No matter how busy I am at work, I try to take a second centering prayer sit. (My first one is the morning.) I am always amazed at how productive the rest of the day is. This sit refreshes me! It recharges me! God and I partner to finish my day.
I have also found that sleep given up for prayer is not missed. I seem to require less sleep as a result of a daily commitment to prayer.
Distractions might be a call to pray for someone or something. Philip mentions that Ronald Rolheiser states, “If you feel bored, pray bored. If you feel anger, pray anger. Every thought or feeling is a valid entry into prayer.”
God loves us more than we can imagine. Sometimes it is best to be quiet. Other times before we can be quiet, we will need to get some things off our chest. I will remember this the next time I am bored, angry or sad. I will not go on and on but I will express them to God and then I will be quiet. I have found that journaling is another way to get these things off your chest and pray to God.
Praying with Icons
Praying with icons is a sacred or divine seeing. We are to use a visual art form. The icon is used as means to God: window to the Divine. The icon is not the object of our attention. We look to or through it to the God who is beyond.
It is easy to do. Set aside twenty minutes to pray. Select an icon or art piece to pray with. Light a candle if you have one. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead us through the prayer. Gaze at the icon. Just look, do not think. We are to gaze with soft eyes. As we gaze through the icon, God gazes back at us. When we are distracted refocus on our gaze on the icon.
I have not tried Praying with Icons yet. I plan to try it soon. I enjoy icons. This might become a new portal to the Divine for me! I like the idea of a God who gazes back at me!
Philip provides some nice reminders or next steps. Let me summarize a few:
- Try to schedule 20-30 minutes per day, twice per day for personal prayer time. It is important to make special time for God. Even 5-10 minutes is good.
- One style of prayer opens us to another.
- Do not be afraid to use multiple forms of prayer in one session
- Do not evaluate the prayer time based on how you feel! Evaluate it in the long term.
- We need community, study and service in addition to prayer
- Prayer group – we need community prayer.
- It is sometime nice to take extended time for prayer: retreats
- Spiritual direction – regularly meet with someone – usually monthly
I encourage you to listen to Christian Prayer Methods. I am certain you will discover one or more prayer methods that will allow God to meet you where you are at. God loves us more than we can even comprehend. If we open to God, God will reveal Itself. It is then that amazing things will begin to happen.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain. It also works well in group studies.
Listen to Simply Good News by New Testament scholar and author N. T. Wright. It is based upon his book Simply Good News. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. Also works well in group studies.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright.
Discover the Context, Content & Production of the New Testament in The Bible- An Introduction to the New Testament by Scott Metz.
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