Cyprian of Carthage writing in the third century reminds us that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we at no time pray only for ourselves. “We do not say, ‘My Father, who art in heaven’ or, ‘Give me this day my daily bread’; We do not ask for our own trespasses alone to be forgiven; and when we pray that we may be delivered from evil, we are not praying only for ourselves either. Our prayer is for the general good, for the common good. We pray for all God’s people, because they and we are one.
I like what J.t. Pettee says, “Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food, for wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don’t forget the potatoes.”
In the light of my failure to hang in there with daily devotions or much in the way of traditional meditation, and I’m not quite sure what “being mindful” is about, Henri Nouwen’s words appeal to me.
“There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in life. Sometimes we seek out a quiet spot and want to be alone, sometimes we look for a friend and want to be together. Sometimes we like a book, sometimes we prefer music. Sometimes we want to sing out with hundreds sometimes we want to say it with words, sometimes with a deep silence. In these moments, we gradually make our lives more open to prayer and we open our hands to be led by God even to places we would rather not go.”
Origen, writing in the third century is also helpful, “Those who pray as well as work at the tasks they have to do, and combine their prayer with suitable activity, will be praying always. That is the only way in which it is possible never to stop praying.”