By Sarah Adams
When asked to write about my favorite form of prayer, I immediately was taken back to an experience that I had this past summer working for Totus Tuus – a summer catechetical program with an emphasis on vocations. As the summer began, I started to hear about this type of prayer that came from a catholic movement called the “charismatic renewal.” The concept was foreign to me, but the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to try this prayer. Charismatic prayer is usually done in community, so I asked one of my teammates – a good friend who was familiar with it – to lead our team one evening in this prayer. He began by telling us that we would be kneeling in front of the tabernacle with our eyes closed and our hands in front of us, palms facing upward. Then, we would say any intentions that we had and begin with asking the Holy Spirit to be with us, giving thanks, then asking for forgiveness, and finally, we would simply praise God. I was eager to try out this new way of prayer, but I had no idea how truly powerful and moving it would be.
We knelt down in the lowly lit chapel, the only light being that which was illuminating the tabernacle, and held our hands out. As soon as my teammate started saying the words “Come, Holy Spirit,” I felt tears streaming down my face. It wasn’t a feeling of happiness or sadness, rather just tears. It was so clear that God was in our presence in that moment. We began to thank God for everything that we have been blessed with, and I, shockingly, did not feel uncomfortable at all praying out loud. I am usually a person who is weary about praying out loud in front of others, because I worry if I am saying the right things and thinking about what I should say next. Yet, this was so organic and natural; it was as if the words were pouring straight from my heart to God. My teammates directly next to me were also speaking, yet I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I was so enveloped in the Holy Spirit that everything else seemed to fade away in the overwhelming presence of God.
As our prayer continued, I felt my feet begin to shake. The sensation continued up my entire body until it looked, I imagine, as if my whole body was spasming, yet my hands felt steady. It was as if Jesus was holding my hands and keeping me steady. Much as in our everyday lives, even when we feel broken and as if everything is falling apart, Jesus is right there walking with us, steadying us along the way.
While this type of prayer was very moving (quite literally) for me, I, alternatively, love silent, contemplative prayer. I enjoy this time to simply sit in the presence of the Lord and listen for God in the silence. I spend much of my time asking God for what I think I “need,” so I like to give God the time to tell me what God knows I really need. I love doing this type of prayer in adoration. The quiet stillness is an incredible counter to the chaotic rush of the world.
Prayer is so versatile and can be different for every person. There is no right or wrong way to communicate with God, and any attempt to do just that is looked upon with endless love from the Father.
(Sarah Adams, ’20, is a theology and marketing double major at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)
For more about charismatic prayer, read “Charismatic prayer: encountering the Holy Spirit”.