"Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6. 8f
Over the weekend I had to download all my files, wipe this computer, install a progressive series of software packages and then reload all my files: a complete overhaul! Also an opportunity to cultivate the qualities that are essential to the Prayer of Formation. The Prayer of Formation (let's just call it Formation Prayer) is that attitude to prayer which not only transforms our praying but transforms our lives. It operates in two ways: by instilling prayerful habits and by re-cycling the daily irritations we face so that, instead of being "show-stoppers", they become learning opportunities.
You could consider this the Discipline of Prayer. Yet that is not to say that we should consider prayer to be a grind, or that we should expect nothing more than mindless repetition of our praying. Quite the reverse, it is about seasoning our lives with the healthy practice of a life-giving activity. As breathing, sleeping and eating are to our physical well-being, so is Formative Prayer to our spiritual health. The French Jesuit, Jean Pierre de Caussade, spoke of the importance of bracing every unwelcome intrusion as a stimulant to prayer. Therese de Lisieux put this into practice by cultivating the friendship of a fellow nun whom everybody else shunned on account of her irritating personality.
What about giving it a go yourself? I don't pretend to be an expert. Indeed, I don't mind admitting that my sense of humour, let alone my progress in Formation Prayer, faltered over the weekend. Yet God is gracious and patient and he will share those qualities if we will receive them...