Interlude: Song Without Words, performed by Rachel Currea, on the Walking to You album
I’ve suggested previously that it can help to say a prayer before you begin to meditate. Something to turn your attention from distraction-du-jour, words to prepare you, and help to settle your mind.
The Lord’s Prayer is a personal favorite. I had to memorize it in my first grade class at a public school, back when that kind of thing wouldn’t get you trouble. Not only are the words easy for me to remember, they cover a lot of ground, and it has some good phrases for setting my worries aside: “Thy will be done.” “Deliver us from evil.” It helps, too, that hanging out with Our Father is one of my strongest images when I’m meditating. “Our Father, who art in heaven” reaches out to God with words, just as I am preparing to reach for God with my heart.
Last Sunday I heard an old familiar prayer with new ears, and realized that it, too, would be a very good pre-meditation prayer. Listen to this:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in thy will,
and walk in thy ways,
to the glory of thy Name. Amen.
How often has your meditation been interrupted by thoughts of what you have done, and what you have left undone? Or unkind thoughts about someone else on the planet? Yeah, not exactly loving that neighbor. This confessional prayer covers those potential distractions, offering them up to God. But what’s truly wonderful about this prayer, heard with the ears of someone who meditates, who tries to meditate — okay, whose meditation practice needs all the help it can get — well, listen again:
Have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in thy will, and walk in thy ways, to the glory of thy Name.
Forgiveness does help to calm the mind. Without the guilt and worry, we can enjoy the time with God. Forgiveness allows us to walk in the way of our meditation practice.
So with the shorter days and colder nights ahead, perhaps find a little time to re-read some favorite prayers with new ears. Hear what each prayer has to say to your meditation practice. Maybe it isn’t a prayer of preparation, but rather a thanksgiving you might offer after meditation. Or maybe it will be a perfect post-meditation offering like this one:
Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing
in the power of the Spirit.
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on November 10, 2018.