When I was about 8 years old I went on a parish weekend with the Society of the Sacred Mission at Kelham in Nottinghamshire. The leader of the weekend introduced me to prayer before the Sacrament. We were encouraged simply to be quiet and pray where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. Much to my mother’s alarm I became a fan. More than 50 years later it still fills me with delight.
Silent prayer, being still in our Lord’s Presence, is a wonderful gift which God gives us. It allows an intimacy with God which is normally reserved for company with very close friends, even lovers.
It allows us to share our fears and anxieties, to voice our concerns for the Church and our Society, to bring in prayer, and catch up with God, those in our hearts and minds. It’s that longed for conversation with another where time stands still, where pressures of daily living can be suspended, where the closeness of the Almighty touches us in the here and now.
There are lovely prayers which can help us achieve this intimacy. There are poems and hymns, and “spiritual exercises” which prayer books often point to.
The priest who introduced me to this simply told me to rest, be still, and allow God into my life. Just “be” in the Presence of God – failings, concerns, desires, joys, even our anger and disappointments with life (and God) can be brought in close conversation with God.
For me it isn’t a visit or encounter with a very important aloof person such as a Queen or Politician – its about having enjoying God’s company, and dare I say having a good natter with him. It’s a close and intimate friendship, which is open to conversation and dialogue. It’s tremendous and wonderful!
“One day St John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars noticed a peasant sitting in church, silently looking at the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. When the saint asked what he was doing, the peasant replied, ‘I look at him and he looks at me.’
The ‘prayer of simple regard’, a silent stillness in the presence of our Lord, is hard to achieve in an overactive life, but it is one to which all of us must aim. Words and lists, petitions and intercessions, that much overused form of prayer, can be just busy distractions from the silent prayer of simple regard. Just as initiatives, programmes, targets and action plans can be no more that symptoms of panic in a church that sees to have lost its faith.”
Adrian Leak from “Archbishop Benson’s Humming Top”