What’s your style of prayer? “Hi, how are ya?” Or “Welcome, old friend.”
This month, I attended a prayer retreat morning at my parish. Fr. Joseph Juknialis, a priest of the Milwaukee Archdiocese led it. He referenced John Powell’s five levels of communication – outlined in Powell’s book, “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?”
Basically, these are: automatic (Hi, how are you?); fact based (Like that weather?); idea sharing (What do think we should do about health care?); shared feelings (I feel hurt when…); and just being with someone – not needing words. Each level exhibits an increasingly deep relationship between ourselves and the other person.
Fr. Juknialis then equated these to levels of prayer: rote prayer; one-sided (asking God for help or saying thank you); meditation (reflecting on a scripture passage or on a homily message); contemplation (a form of prayer that often revolves around repeated prayer words that clear the mind to enter God’s presence); and a state of being at one with God. Fr. Juknialis called this last level “the underground river of God.) He also said that not everyone reaches the deeper levels of prayer – at least not often.
Now we all bounce between types of prayer, as we bounce around in types of conversations. But I found myself wondering what types of prayer others use most often. I certainly use types one and two frequently – you could say “constantly” some days. And type three I work on. I have also tried contemplation – formally. And I find that it can also sneak up on you. The river of God is something that I think we have all glimpsed at times.