Coming out of a chapel after praying the rosary with a few other Catholics, a friend of mine was surprised when several of those who were with him revealed that they were moved by his prayers. They were all praying the rosary together and he had simply led a decade as requested. He was a bit surprised by their response. He was not conscious of himself during prayer but was very present with Jesus and Mary. In response, he just shrugged it off and assumed that they were affected at a spiritual level by something that was beyond him.
Having had the opportunity to pray with him and talking with him afterward, it was clear to me what was happening. St. Teresa of Avila says about vocal prayer that, “A prayer in which a person is not aware of whom he is speaking to… I do not call prayer however much the lips move.” He revealed to me that at that time, he was very aware of whom he was speaking to.
To those around him, there was tangible evidence of this. How did they know? This is simple, when he talks to God, even when praying vocal prayer or prayer written by someone else, his tone and approach is the same as when praying extemporaneously. This means that he prays as if he is having an encounter with a real person, because, he is.
This really is the challenge of vocal prayer and memorized prayers, etc. We can easily fall into the trap of failing to really connect our hearts to our mouths instead of just allowing our mouths to run on empty.
If this post has prompted you to want to dig deeper in your faith, don’t fail to explore the life-changing offerings of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation.
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