Those who know how to say the canonical hours with those in orders should do so, in the way those holy forefathers of ours laid down, and according to the Church’s approved custom. Those who do not know the hours must say twenty-five ‘Our Fathers’ for the night office, except on Sundays and solemnities when that number is to be doubled so that the ‘Our Father’ is said fifty times; the same prayer must be said seven times in the morning in place of Lauds, and seven times too for each of the other hours, except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times.
– Rule of St. Albert, No. 11
“You don’t need to pray,” Br. Peter Foo, FSC, former Brother Visitor of the De La Salle Brothers Penang District and a most sought after speaker on prayer, broke this news to novices from different congregations during a session on Centering Prayer, a form of contemplative prayer that brings one to silence.
And he is right because prayer should not be on a “per need basis,” as is our common practice, rather it should be on a “per want basis.”
We pray because we want, we desire to be in God’s company, and not just because we need to because it is in our Rule of Life or because we need to ask God for a favor or something.
Prayer is an indicator of our intimacy with God.
When a couple is just starting their relationship they tend to say a lot of things to each other. But as they mature in their relationship, they move on from the “asking stage,” where one equates favors like the giving of chocolates and jewelry to care and love, to the “companion stage,” where one’s mere presence is enough to experience the other’s love.
No need for words because they know each other’s needs and are confident in each other’s love.
Carmelites are known for their love of prayer. From Teresa de Jesus of Avila, whose beautiful description on the stages of prayer inspired many to seek God beyond vocal prayers, to Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, whose constant living in God’s presence made his every action a form of prayer.
A lesser known Carmelite who exemplified the life of prayer is Peter Thomas who was Patriarch of Constantinople.
From the time he entered religious life, he never missed to pray the Psalms in common, that even on his deathbed he had to say it until his strength failed him, prompting his confessor to finish it with him.
For what reason and how much value do we put on prayer, especially those done in common?
When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Lord, I love you, please grant me a heart that desires your company every minute of my life. Amen.