The Art of Praying

In his book, The Art of Praying, Romano Guardini explains in wonderful detail how to go about the act of prayer, and the vital importance of understanding all of its aspects, from preparation of time, place and self, to the actual prayer. So many times we rely on the basic training of our childhood: we kneel and fold our hands and find that nothing comes as easily as it once did. Is it that we have forgotten how to pray, or have we just never gone beyond the basics we were taught in grade school?
If we are to go about the serious business of evangelizing our world we must have some sort of foundation on which to build. We must belong to a parish community; certainly, because of the sense of belonging it gives us, as well as support of good catechesis and the Sacraments of the Church. But these things can seem insufficient if we receive them only passively, laying them like unopened presents about the Christmas tree of our souls. We must open these gifts and use them if we are to become effective evangelizers. But since we are now adults, we find that no one will make us grow in our faith, we must grow it ourselves, with the help of God’s grace. We do this by seeking out ongoing catechesis, studying the Bible, our Catechism, our Traditions and the writings of those who have gone before us. We must also pray-this is the best way to continue building and deepening our relationship with Christ-and once Christ has reached us, which will make it possible for Him to reach others through us.
The practices we learned as children are a great starting place, especially if we have not made much of an effort since then to increase in prayer. Guardini offers step by step instructions on how to set up an environment where prayer is possible and explains why each is necessary.
For me, his challenge in this first chapter is two-fold. The first is to find a quiet place to make into a space dedicated to prayer, particularly when living in a busy household. I generally end up in the bedroom, sitting on the bed, as sitting at the study desk carries the wrong feel. The desk is for work and while prayer is work, it is not a task, but a relationship. The bed is not ideal either, but I find it to be a more relaxed space, one where I tend to sit and think anyway. It feels more natural to curl up with a saint’s writings & my rosary there than any other spot in the house. I am also less likely to attract attention to what I am doing in the privacy of the bedroom and so avoid being easily distracted.
The second challenge is to carry that peace out with me during the day. I find it essential to have small breaks during the day for prayer and a bit of contemplation. This is tricky in a world that tells you faith cannot be displayed in the workplace, or spoken of, as we will offend others who practice differently or don’t practice at all. A walk at lunch does wonders, as well as quick prayers between tasks.
I find that in order to stay as close to Christ as I want to, and to allow Him to draw me closer, I must create a cloister in my heart where He always can be. I need to take all the practices that Guardini gives us for setting up a physical environment and use them to create that space of silence within myself. Then, no matter where I am, a busy household or a stressed workplace I will always be at rest and ready to minister to whomever the Lord sends me way.
© Carol Ann Chybowski, 2017

Carol Ann Chybowski

Carol Ann Chybowski

Carol Ann Chybowski is a long time member of the Catholic Writers Guild. She has published book reviews at various websites and appears in two volumes of A Community of Voices: An Anthology of Santa Barbara. When not busy about her parish, Carol Ann can be found knitting, gardening, or on horseback.

Leave a Reply

next post: The Bible: the Good Books

previous post: Diet