Thursday, April 8, 2010

Avoiding prayer for all we're worth: Tools Part 3

In my pocket I carry a very small circle of yarn. It has been tied into knots all the way around. I can't tell where the beginning or end is, except that in the midst of the knots is a tiny wooden carving. And if you look closely, you can see the carving is a cross. I'm describing a prayer rope. There are prayer ropes with many more knots, or some with beads that many people call "prayer beads," "worry beads" or a rosary.

And by now, many of you are shocked and dismayed. "These are the tools of the superstitious, not Christians!" (I can hear it now, because it is exactly what I used to believe.) But I am going to ask you to hang with me for a moment. Because I am learning to use my prayer rope. I have been on and off now for a few years.

I don't use my prayer rope to count my prayers, but to keep me attentive to them. In Part 2 of this series, I introduced the use of centering prayers. Each time I begin the prayer again, I move to a new knot, again, not to count, but to notice that I am starting over. Because when you pray a prayer for an hour or so, or even for several minutes, it is easy to begin to drift in your thoughts. (Remember the introduction to this series--"Avoiding prayer for all we're worth." Here I admitted that I have trouble focusing for more than a few minutes. Thus, the tools are what I use to remedy this.) And so the feel of the knots brings my attention back if it has wondered during the previous prayer. And, each time I come around to the cross, I take a moment to pray a brief "Glory to you, Lord, glory to you."

My prayer rope helps me get in sync with my praying, but you probably don't have one. So here's a tool to see if this can help. (Not as good as the rope, but a start.) Touch your thumb to your pointer finger and say your first prayer. Then, move to your middle finger, your ring finger and little finger. You have completed a ssequence of prayers. Now start over.

Next time, I'll share a few more prayers I use for centering. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you about these things.

9 comments:

Keith said...

Keep 'em coming, Dave...when i grow up i want to be just like you

Zee said...

a sequence of prayers... what do you mean?

i'm sort of confused here...

david said...

Keith, give me a break. :) Zee sorry. By sequence I'm referring to praying repetitively a prayer a number of times-- or a series. Just now I went for a nice walk without my rope. So, I prayed the Jesus prayer in series using my thumb and fingers. This is in an attempt to pray in a more focused way. After my first mile or so, my spirit was ready--"centered"if you will.

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zee said...

hmm... the SAME prayer? or like, moving from one point to another in, say, the Lord's Prayer?

david said...

Same prayer. So at the end of the Lord's prayer, you move to a new knot/finger and begin again. You will b surprised to see how the prayer comes alive after you've gotten through several focused repititions. You will also want to learn some more prayers. Help?

Zee said...

hmm, interesting. yeah, thanks, it did help. i guess i just never thought of repetitive praying (is there a normal term for it?) :)

david said...

Centering prayer, I guess. Give it a try. I'll give you some moe prayers to try soon.

Roseyscrapper said...

I came here to see if you had written anything about this last weeks events, but I see you haven't...see you tomorrow. I like this stuff on prayer.