Making space for prayer at home
Audrey Hamilton, a spiritual director who runs courses in parishes to help people with their prayer life, reflects on how we can make space for prayer at home.
I read a tweet recently that said ‘This has been the Lentiest Lent ever’ which amused me at the time though I find myself agreeing with it more and more. As the sheer scale of the Coronavirus crisis has become apparent, normal life has been severely impacted. The death toll and figures for those infected increases daily and none of us are unaffected. ‘Self-isolation’ has impacted our mobility and family connections and, as Christians, we are also now faced not only with the absence of our regular liturgies but also find our churches locked, even for private prayer. [This blog post was written during the lockdown of March 2020]
An invitation to meet God
In these difficult new times, we find the Gospel we heard at the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, taking on even more significance – “When you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place…” (Mt 6:6).
There is both invitation and promise in those words – an invitation to meet God as and where we are, in our homes, with the assurance that God is indeed with us. We may already have a time and space when we do pray at home – in the morning or evening perhaps – but now we might want to make this more intentional and really try to recognise the sacredness of the space in which we find our ourselves, seeing it indeed as ‘holy ground’.
A space for prayer
A candle on a window-sill, or on a small table in a quiet corner, can mark out a sacred space – with perhaps a Bible or prayer book, a small icon or image, or something from the natural world to recall God’s beauty such as a flower, a pebble from the seaside, a pinecone (perhaps brought back from your ‘socially distanced’ daily walk). It need not be elaborate - just something that serves to remind you that God is indeed with you and looks on you with great love.
God looking at you with love
And this awareness of God looking at you with love is how St Ignatius advocates we come to our prayer space – just spend a few moments pondering that love, receiving that love and then entering into it as we pray.
May your domestic prayer space be, during these challenging times, a place of rich encounter between you and the God who loves you.
“If you find it hard to pray, don’t give up. Be still; make space for God to come in; let Him look at you, and He will fill you with His peace.”