Interior Castle II - The Prayer of Recollection

One of the questions that I am often asked and that I struggle with at times my self is how do we pray. What are the best methods. When Saint Theresa of Avila talks about prayer she describes what she calls the prayer of Recollection. The foundations of this prayer is the reality that God dwells within us. Prayer becomes a turning inwards towards this indwelling of God in our Soul. If I was to take what she has written and describe it to to someone it would be something like this. 

First of all there are two ways of living this prayer, in times of solitary prayer and in the midst of your day. The practice of solitary prayer is the foundation of the prayer, while the prayer in the midst of the day would be one of the ways in which we carry our solitary prayer into our days. 

For solitary prayer

1. Find a place where you can be undisturbed for a time and not distracted by your surrounding. Sit and begin by stilling your body. Sit comfortably with an upright back. 

2. Begin by quieting your mind and turning your focus towards God. Slowly reading a passage of scripture, a spiritual book, focusing on your breath or repeating silently a phrase from scripture are all good ways of beginning this stilling process. 

3. When you are ready, close your eyes, turn from your other bodily senses and turn your focus within you, within your soul.

4. Use your imagination to open your self and focus on how God dwells within you. Use what works best for you. You could picture Christ within you, the cross, a light, a throne room with God on it, the feeling of love within you. The particular image is not as important as the attention and openness to God within you, so choose and stay with what is most helpful for you. 

5. As your thoughts and worries arise and pull your attention from this awareness, gently hand them over to this presence of God with in you. The work is to hand over all of who we are over to God so that God may more fully dwell within you.  So whether it is joys or sorrows, insults or praise, worries or expectations - simply hand it over to God. 

6. As you come to the close of your time of prayer you can say a prayer such as the Lord's Prayer or have a conversation with God concerning what ever is on your heart or in your day. Talk with God as you would talk with a friend. 

7. Pause for a moment, rest in God's presence and then carry this remembering of God's presence within you into your day. 

In terms of time. Start with what you are able to do. If you are someone who needs something more specific  20 min. is a good guideline for a place to start. 

In the Midst of Your Day

1. As you go about your day simply pause, turn your attention inwards and remember that God is dwelling within you. 

2. Hand over what ever your are in the midst of over to God. 

3. Briefly, inwardly, talk with God about what ever is happening or that is on your heart at that time. Talk with God as you would talk with a friend. 

4. Listen and give some space for God's response. 

5. Carry this into the rest of your day.

This is both a bit of a simplification and my attempt to make this practice a little clearer for contemporary prayers. If you want to go into more depth please read the originals. You can read more in  Chapter 28-29 in her Way or Perfection or Chapter 3 of the Forth Mansion in the Interior Castle.