We have morning prayer before Mass and this morning, being the Anniversary of Hillsborough, and us being a Merseyside parish - there were many heartfelt personal prayers for victims, survivors and families. The emotions of all those present were evident from the heartfelt tones and hesitations in the voices.
This type of vocal and implusive prayer is quite unusual in Catholic churches and I have been thinking since about how we really pray. There are, of course, dozens of ways, ritually, vocally, musically, communally and personally but the prayer is only ever about the line of communication between you and God and what is that like?
Modern technology means that there are many methods of communication available yet people still sit alone in houses; feel alone in a crowd; have no-one to visit; no-one to understand; no-one to turn to. The line of communication may exist but it takes two, and maybe it has to be the right two, too.
The thing with modern technology is that communication has become a game; a pastime; a way to get attention; to prove you have more friends. And I suppose that that's a way to pray.
Like Facebook, you can create your own Godspace, the world where you and God are at, at the moment. You create an avatar of yourself, the perfect you. never grumpy or dowdy; always in a good mood; doing good deeds; living a good life. And you can spend the day planning what you are going to pray, looking for quotes, writing poetry, finding that right piece of music that will show God how wonderful you are. And then you go 'on-line' and amaze God and all your friends with your spirituality, your grace, your obviously blessed relationship with the Lord of All. God in hyperspace- as distant and insubstantial as you can be - both him and yourself.
Or prayer can come down to the most basic of communication - speech, listening and silence - like a meeting at a 12 step programme - when you don't know if you really want to be there but you know you have to and all you have brought is yourself. When you are known for who you really are, what you have really done and what you really need. When tears are welcome and a handshake can heal and none of it is down to you.
Perhaps, when we think God isn't listening, it's because he doesn't recognise who speaking to Him; or the 'God' we are speaking to doesn't exist?
Praying from the heart takes practice, time and honesty. And,yes, why not use all the gifts ands talents you have to pray with music, with poetry, with art; but always - always - try to pray with your 'self'.