'To be human now is the reason we follow the star....'
W H Auden
As religious we are privileged that the whole of life is orientated such that time to engage with the mystery of prayer is the absolute priority. Prayer provides the context for the whole of life.
There are different strands to the life of prayer and worship.
Periods of private silent prayer are usually undertaken early in the day before engaging with other activities, as well as at other times.
Silence is essential to the life of prayer. However, silence refers to far more than a cessation of noise around and about, and is certainly more than just not speaking. These are aids only; aids to reducing inner noise or chatter. Silence is about watching and waiting that God’s word may be received. Silence also reflects the mystery of God; a mystery for which we simply have no words.
The recitation of the Divine office (the 'Opus Dei' - the work of God) forms a structure to the daily prayer, and helps to root personal prayer within the shared experience of the Church.
Intercession, taking time to be in the presence of God whilst holding the needs of our world and all those for whom we care, is a vital part of ministry as a religious. By the allowing ourselves to remain aware of the needs of other people, the horizons of life remain broad. In this way, solitude cannot be used as a way of escaping from or cushioning the pain of the world. Solitude should simply be a way of hearing the cries of humanity more clearly.
Bible reading, that is reading the scriptures devotionally, is another part of the discipline of prayer. In his Rule, St Benedict describes the Gospel at different times as our guide, our medicine, our divine law, our rock, our treasury. These images all convey the notion that the scriptures are not simply there for us to acquire knowledge of, but are there for to be drawn on as part of that ongoing dialogue within prayer, that will challenge and demand a response within the living of life.
Study has always been a part of the monastic way of life and regular Spiritual reading remains important as it informs thinking and deepens our understanding of the life. Again, it is a way in which the word of God can be heard, and in which our lives can be both challenged and affirmed.
In these ways, an openness to the presence of God is learned, and then far from prayer being something we 'do', we learn that it is something that God does within us.