Prayer Is the Sharing of Presence

intergenerational friends talking in the park

When I spend time with a friend, I want that person’s presence. After a while, a phone call or an e-mail just isn’t good enough—I want a body to hug, a face to gaze upon, the whole person behind the phone voice and the written words. God wants our whole presence, not just our thoughts flung heavenward when we have a second and just our emotional overflow when the day has gone sour. Prayer is the sharing of presence.

Days of Deepening Friendship

One reason prayer can seem unnatural is that we don’t go about it naturally at all. We feel that we must assume a certain physical position, or that we must use some words and phrases but not others. It’s all right to feel joy and gratitude, but we try to push the anger and sadness back and out of the way.

Actually, sometimes we’re tempted to pray sort of the way we’d go through a job interview—putting out our best appearance and conversation, and presenting the self that we think will make the best impression.

Or, we are so used to other people judging and shaming us that we bring to God the self that is least likely to get us into trouble.

What do you bring to prayer? What language? What emotion? What facial expressions? What movements of body?

Are you entering a conversation with a tricky deity who is impossible to please? Or are you entering a conversation with someone who loves you better than the “bestest” friend?

Try this: After you have enjoyed a conversation with a friend, reflect on your part of the conversation. Write down what you said, what tones of voice you used, which physical gestures. Write about how you felt and how you expressed those feelings.

Then, when you pray, remember that marvelous self that you shared with your friend. Try to bring that self into conversation with the Divine friend, and see what happens.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 110 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

3 Comments on Prayer Is the Sharing of Presence

  1. I found it interesting that the article began with the need for presence and then moved to a wonderful article on prayer. Prayer and presence. Finding God through prayer. I believe that as people grow in faith, they also grow in prayer confidence. By that I mean,they become comfortable establishing a personal prayer style that allows them to feel the presence of God all around and within them. The exterior components are no longer the driving forces of their prayer life. Rather,it is the interior conversation with the Presence which of ignites their relationship with God.

  2. “God wants our whole presence, not just our thoughts flung heavenward when we have a second and just our emotional overflow when the day has gone sour. Prayer is the sharing of presence.”-totally agree with this. This reminds me of St. Teresa of Avila saying “Prayer is nothing more than an intimate sharing between 2 friends”. It can take time to get used to the idea of sharing the bad as well as the good with God, and to get comfortable with talking with Him, listening to Him, being open and receptive to Him, and not just talking at Him in prayer sessions. It can take time also to see Him in all things, both in the good and bad of life, and to respond as needed.

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