“Alone, Together” in Prayer?
Yesterday, I reread a favourite book of my grandchildren. Children are so wise. They know the wonder of books as friends to be enjoyed, over and over again.
This morning, I returned to my cherished reflection book, “The Only Necessary Thing,” a collection of Henri Nouwen’s reflections on prayer. Every time I work through it as part of my daily meditation time, God touches my heart anew.
The Foreword, written by Sue Mosteller, C.S.J., opens with Henri’s belief in “being alone together” in prayer. Being a “man of prayer,” Henri loved to pray with others at every opportunity. My first experience of “being alone together” in prayer came with fellow university students. I was invited to a “prayer meeting.” I’d never been to such a thing before. It felt risky, only because it would be different, not actually dangerous.
My sense of adventure and a friend’s assurances carried me through the door. The first fifteen minutes, we sat on the floor, holding hands and praying in silence. Afterwards, we shared our concerns, enjoyed snacks and a glass of wine, stories and laughter. Just before we left, we prayed again, this time taking turns speaking out loud to God. I remember being surprised. I told my friend, “It was fun,” because it was. We had joined our Spirits together in prayer, both silent and aloud. I felt energized by the special connection we had made, a connection beyond friendship. Over the next three years, I came to cherish those prayer meetings. I learned to “be alone together” in prayer.
Today, as I read Henri Nouwen’s words, I realized just how much I was missing the joining of our spirits in prayer at church. How can I find that amazing spiritual connection on zoom?
I’ve learned to find that spiritual connection with authors like Henri Nouwen when I take time to read a little and think and pray a lot. I also feel that same spiritual connection with God when I write my stories and reflections and when I journal. I’m sure, with God’s help I can learn to be “alone together” with my wonderful church family on zoom. After all, the angel Gabriel told Mary, “With God, all things are possible.”
Instead of moaning about the loss of being in our church building, I can begin to think of and practice ways to help myself be “alone together” in prayer with my church family on Sunday morning. I can light a candle at home on Sunday or anytime during the week to remind myself of God’s presence, just as we do at church. Before the service, I can pray for the ones who usually come. After the service, I can pray for anyone I’ve missed and those who have asked for prayers.
Yes, God certainly spoke to me through Henri’s words this morning. I am truly grateful.
What suggestions do you have to help me and yourself be “alone together” in prayer?