This is Day 34 of my 40 day Lenten Blog.
"Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
In my blog post yesterday I mentioned mental prayer. Mental prayer, unlike vocal prayer, uses no words. Vocal prayer is the first--and most common-- of the nine levels of prayer and mental prayer is the second level. I wanted to go into a little more detail on mental prayer as it has been said that it is essential to pray this way daily in order to have a truly virtuous life.
Mental prayer is also known as meditation. It's not like meditation in Eastern religions where you try to clear your mind. Instead, in mental prayer you meditate on something. For example you might meditate on the Annunciation--when the Archangel Gabriel informed Mary that she was going to give birth to Jesus. Step one is to focus on that event and what happened. Step two is apply it to your spiritual life. For example, when told that she was going to conceive and bear a child the Virgin Mary replied "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38). So you might determine to respond to the Lord's commands in the same way as Mary--through trust and obedience. Step three is to determine a step to take to accomplish this application to your life. In this case you might have been ignoring a call from God on your life because it would make things difficult for you and your family, but now determine to obey the call.
Simple right? Well, in theory yes. I have struggled with it. Especially during the meditative stage. But one way I use it every Sunday is that during communion when I am praying while waiting for my turn to go to the altar to partake of the body and blood, I meditate on the scourging at the pillar. I imagine that I am the soldier beating Christ with the whip. I remind myself that He was beaten and killed because of my sins and I resolve not to sin anymore and so not to beat Him anymore. If you ever see me crying during communion, that is normally the reason.
Oh Holy Spirit, help me to pray more and when I pray meditatively, help me to focus. During that meditation please show me the lesson I most need to learn and how to apply it to my life so as to grow closer to my Lord. Then help me take the steps to do so. Amen.
R.C. VanLandingham is the author of the Christian fantasy novel Peter Puckett & The Amulet of Eternity. He lives in Florida with his beautiful wife and three wonderful boys.