PARENTS TEACH US many beautiful truths but the greatest gift they can give us is a living faith and total trust in God. Many of us, I am sure, saw our parents turn to Jesus to draw strength from his sacred heart. They did not have to say any words. They just looked at him with expectation and trust, knowing he would provide. They believed that Mary was a good friend and mother who would never let her children down.
Are our children today learning this from us? Do they see us spend some time in silence, communing with God and listening to him as he speaks to our hearts?
There is vocal prayer that we recite with our lips. I heard my mother sing hymns to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in a soft voice, many a time, as she went about her daily chores. She prayed with people in need before the picture
of Jesus or the statue of Mary, with simple faith. Mental prayer is using our minds and imagination.
We picture a scene from the Gospel and see ourselves in that scene and then read the word of God. Both vocal and mental are necessary and good. But we can also use contemplative prayer, when we allow the Spirit of God to pray within us: "Abba father." It makes a big difference to the atmosphere in our home. We open our lives to receive the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control to share with our family.
Many married couples today want to grow closer to the Lord. They want to experience deeper union with God. I have adapted these 12 steps from Father Jim Borst’s "Method of Contemplative Prayer":
1. To have some quiet time to relax and have inner silence.
2. To become aware of God’s presence in the cave of your hearts.
3. To have a deep longing for God’s presence and love, and express this desire: God loves me. With Jesus in my heart, what have I to fear? He is the Son of God. In my heart he is near. He is my good Shepherd who is accompanying me. Thank you Jesus for loving me. Holy Spirit, I need you. Let your mind and heart be purified so that they may become free and transparent to him.
4. Surrender to him all that you are and have and worry about. Let him carry you in the palm of his hand. Pray: "Abba Father, you are my father and I am your child. I am your own precious child."
5. Accept his love and forgiveness and see yourself as his beloved child.
6. Forgive from your heart anyone who has hurt you.
7. Repent of your sins and turn to the Lord to be saved. Come to receive from him, his love and grace and what he wants to give you to be a loving spouse and parent.
8. Ask in faith in Jesus’ name and listen as he tells you what he wants to give you to fulfil the mission he entrusts to you.
9. Contemplate yourself, your spouse and children in his loving embrace and allow him to provide for you and to love you all.
10. Receive the gifts, graces, blessings and crosses he gives you. Crosses are also blessings to save us.
11. Then thank and praise him.
12. Having sought God’s will and the coming of his kingdom, know that all you need and desire for yourself, your spouse and your family, according to his plan, will be given to you. Intercede in Jesus’ name.
Emphasize some steps one day and others on another day. Listen with your heart to Jesus who loves you and wants to live in you.
Of course, to make this time, we may need to prioritize how we budget our time. Maybe all you can find is 15 minutes for prayer; use it so that you may receive from the Lord the grace and the strength to be more loving and kinder spouses and parents. n
Note: Marriage Encounter Weekends are conducted on the first Friday of each month. For more information, visit www.marriage-encounter-sg.org.