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March 3, 2019: Practicing Prayer

by Father Jadon

To “practice” something is to do it.  That may sound like an overly simple statement, but often when we use the word “practice” we think of what we are doing as somehow preparatory. Think of the way we apply the phrase “practice makes perfect” to piano lessons, or math class, or athletic endeavors, etc.  It makes it seem as though our practicing is somehow preparing us for a time when we will really do something.  But the roots of the word “practice” aren’t about preparation. They simply mean “to do, to act” and “to apply and not merely theorize.”  Think about the way we refer to a doctor’s medical practice or an attorney’s legal practice. To practice something is to do it . . . and in the doing of it we often get better, but getting better isn’t necessarily the point. 

When we speak of prayer we often speak of it as a practice. But in order for anything to come of prayer, we must actually pray.  Some might even go so far as to argue that in order for us to benefit from prayer we must pray ourselves.  In the Gospels we see Jesus himself teaching about prayer, both by telling people how to do it (see Matthew 6:5-13, for example, which concludes with Jesus offering the “Lord’s Prayer”), and by doing it himself. The Gospels tell of Jesus praying at his Baptism (Luke 3:21), after healing people (Mark 1:35), before choosing the twelve disciples (Luke 6:12), after walking on water (Matt 14:23, Mark 6:46, John 6:15), and three times on the cross (Luke 23:34, Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34, Luke 23:46), among many other examples. 

Over the coming weeks and months we will ask members of our community to reflect on a wide variety of prayer practices. We will begin offering articles about prayer regularly in The Weekly, going forward, and we will make it our primary focus here each week during the season of Lent, when many of us take special care to cultivate spiritual practices that nourish our life of faith. Even though getting better isn’t necessarily the primary point of any particular practice, it is usually the case that doing something more often makes it easier, more natural, and ultimately more beneficial.  I think this is certainly the case for spiritual practices and for prayer practices in particular, and I look forward to sharing the fruits and challenges of practicing prayer with one another.

Last Published: February 27, 2019 3:22 PM
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