What is Immersive Prayer
God’s love is always present in our lives, but we are constantly bombarded by distractions which draw us away from an awareness of God’s presence in ourselves and others. A reflective prayer life can help focus on this intimacy of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and what God’s will for us might be. I personally seem to experience an intimacy while in deep prayer, in the quiet solitude of nature, during church services, reading scripture and most profoundly when I see others helping someone in need. This sense is far less present in my work and family life but I am sure like many of you I am trying to integrate pray into all facets of who I am regardless of what I might be doing.
The desire to make prayer a progressive priority for some has been described as feeling fully alive, contemplation, ecstasy, mystical experience or being in the presence of God. I prefer the simple and less confusing notion of just being immersed in prayer with God and neighbor. It seems to me that what we do with our lives because of these experiences when God’s presence is certain (or faith overcomes every issue), is the true test of our faith. When we extend the prayer moment into action and/or being, we become immersed in the prayer far beyond the classic definition of prayer. Christian Mystics such as St. John of the Cross or St. Theresa of Avila who expressed God’s love for neighbor in poetry and prose did not just write about their experiences but became living agents of Christ. Jesus calls us to be living agents, expressing this challenge far more succinctly than I ever could: we must love God and neighbor with our entire being.
To do so, means our mind, body and soul need to be immersed as Jesus proclaimed in the Beatitudes. To embrace this complete prayer life consist of appreciating and using as appropriate one or more of the three classic forms of prayer: Vocal, Meditative, Contemplative. I have personally found the stages of Lectio Divina prayer is one way to bring all three styles of prayer together and in a progressive fashion over tine. Utilizing our God given gifts as a result of our prayer life allows us to do and be for the other and while we express our gratefulness to the Trinity, bringing the concept full circle.
Using Vocal or Meditative prayer in an immersive way is fairly self explanatory as many of us are used to praying for our neighbor in this fashion. Contemplative Immersive Prayer is more difficult and requires God to actively participate which means to enter this form of prayer is not entirely our own doing. However, I have personally found when I become merciful is when God seems to become more present with me and for “the other” in prayer. Here is a potential way for you to try being immersed in contemplative prayer with God and for neighbor.
In the spirit of Psalm 81, I offer vignettes of some of my reflective thoughts from prayers collected over the years of my own continuous transformation into a living agent.
[Scripture quotations are]from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.