Repetition is the return to a previous period of prayer for the purpose of allowing the movements of God to deepen within the heart. Through repetitions, we fine-tune our sensitivities to God and to how he speaks in our prayer and in our life circumstances. The prayer of repetition teaches us to understand who we are in light of how God sees us and who God is revealing himself to be for us.
Repetition is a way of honoring God’s word to us in the earlier prayer period. It is recalling and pondering an earlier conversation with one we love. It is as if we say to God, “Tell me that again; what did I hear you saying?” In this follow-up conversation or repetition, we open ourselves to a healing presence that often transforms whatever sadness and confusion we may have experienced the first time we prayed.
In repetitions, not only does the consolation (joy, warmth, peace) deepen, but the desolation (pain, sadness, confusion) frequently moves to a new level of understanding and acceptance within God’s plan for us.
To use this method, select a period of prayer to repeat in which you have experienced a significant movement of joy, sadness, or confusion. You might also select a period in which nothing seemed to happen—perhaps because of your lack of readiness at the time.
To begin, recall the feelings of the first period of prayer. Use as a point of entry the scene, word, or feeling that was previously most significant. Allow the Spirit to direct the inner movements of your heart during this time of prayer.
—Excerpted from Love: A Guide for Prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and Sister Marie Schwan, CSJ