This is the fourth and final post about the one-day retreat I recently attended here in Phoenix with Abbot Meletios Webber from the Monastery of St. John. The retreat was titled “Being Present in the Presence.”
Fr. Meletios spoke primarily about praying in secret as opposed to being together in church for the services. Praying in church is pretty well laid down. Prayer in private is in addition to the community prayer in Church. The different activities for which the monks are free to choose for their own private prayer:
- Jesus prayer
- Reading of scripture – not Bible Study but Bible Listening, what, in Latin is called, Lectio Divina
- Reading patristics
We go to our room and we shut the door and we experience solitude. We are in church to be one with others but in our room we are to experience solitude. We need to be grateful for what we are able to do and not resentful for what we are unable to do. The little we do is enough spiritual medicine. It is important that you are not interrupted during this process. Turn off the phone, get away from the kids, etc. Set a timer for 5 or 20 minutes and then give the time to God. We should set aside a little prayer time in the morning and a little in the evening. This time in prayer, he said, should be understood to be a luxury rather than a duty or work.
We ended the day with 20 minutes of silent prayer of the heart. Fr. Meletios set the timer on his phone to vibrate after 20 minutes. The luxury for me was knowing that I was not going to be interrupted for a while and that I only had to calm down and pray.
Again, like his talk on gratitude, it was very practical. I commend it to you. Get in a room where you will not be interrupted, set a timer and pray until the timer goes off. Don’t worry about the time. Don’t worry about anything.