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Excerpt from Secrets of Prayer

An excerpt from Secrets of Prayer by Nancy Corcoran, CSJ

If I had to summarize the key that unlocked the secrets of prayer, it would be this: No one has a corner on the Divine; no one holds all the secrets. As I explored a wide diversity of beliefs and religious traditions, my concept of the Holy broke out of the small box in which I had carefully guarded it, and I felt liberated. I began adopting prayer practices that I found useful, and my prayer life became much the richer. I discovered faith traditions that don’t limit themselves to expressing connections to God in words, but rather use art forms – sculpture, painting, fiber art, and more – to be in God’s presence. I encountered others who called God by a variety of names: G-D, God, G*D, YHWH, Jehovah, Lord, Allah, Godde, the Holy, the Divine, the One, the Source, Spirit, the Alpha and Omega, and the Cause. And I gained a new respect for the many forms of wordless prayer, from meditation and contemplation to movement and gestures.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that the Holy is so much greater than what any one teaching could ever tell us, what any one person can know. Ultimately, it is up to each of us to find the spiritual practices that feed our spirits and connect us with the sacred. Even though my approach to prayer has become more universal, my practice has become more particular, more mine. And I have developed a steadfast belief that we each have a responsibility to seek the Divine for ourselves, to trust our own journey.

Secrets of Prayer will take you beyond any one tradition to explore and make room for the “more,” the unseen, the hoped-for in your own prayer. Starting with the three most common ways faith traditions teach us to reach out to God – prayer, meditation, and contemplation – we’ll move into other methods of listening for the Divine, ways of being aware of and existing in God’s presence. You’ll find ways to tap into the hidden sources of energy within your body to fuel your prayer and discover ways in which prayer mirrors your human needs for nourishment. Samplings of prayers from other traditions and faiths, along with stories, will help you listen to and be with the One-you-seek-who-seeks you and broaden your approach to the vehicle of prayer. At each step along the way, practical prayer exercises offer you a chance to explore a variety of prayer practices to find what best suits you.

Whether you struggle with even the concept of communication with the Holy, or you want to develop a prayer practice but are not sure where to begin, or you wish to deepen your practice, read on. Secrets of Prayer offers creative approaches to the Divine that may affirm what you are already doing – or help you discover that you are already practicing something you did not think to call prayer! As your understanding of the richness found in other traditions grows, you will not only feel more secure in your prayer practices, but you will also encounter some novel ways to approach the sacred.

There are many ways to climb a mountain. Some get a fourwheeler and drive right up over boulders. Others are into hiking and enjoy the gradual movement up, camping at different spots along the way. The truly daring grab their gear and climb straight up walls of rock and ice. A very few are dropped off by helicopters and are only interested in skiing down. Then, of course, there are those of us who are content to stay below and gaze up at the beauty of the mountain against the blue sky. Whatever feeds your soul, the sacred is there waiting for you. All you need to do is approach.
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