Debbie Warrier with Bishop Donald Sproxton

30 Apr 2008

By The Record

As I have grown through my thirty years of priestly life, I have come to recognise different periods where prayer has changed and different methods of prayer have become more important.

From my childhood the Rosary has been a part of my prayer, although its use waned a little in my adolescent years. 
I rediscovered it during my seminary years when I would recite it each evening before dinner.  We were fortunate to have a regular seminary program and time of prayer from about 5:30 each evening which was very special for me. The Rosary became again a part of my daily routine, and now as a bishop, I focus the intentions of my Rosary on the issues that I face each day.
I have always enjoyed the recitation of the Divine Office or, as it is known more commonly, the Prayer of the Church. 
Again, while in the seminary, I was introduced to this prayer, and many years later, I received an excellent series of catecheses on the psalms which has increased my love of this form of prayer. 
Even though the Office is celebrated in a four week cycle, I never tire of praying the psalms, or the readings from the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church which we read every year.
I learnt the style of prayer that has been called Centering Prayer when the clergy of the Archdiocese received the Ministry to Priest Program in the 1980’s.  This prayer I find has an immediacy which means that with continual practice you can easily put yourself into the presence of God and remain focussed on Him. 
I have discovered that this is a very ancient form of prayer which was practised widely by the hermits and early monks in the Eastern Catholic Churches. 
Centering Prayer brings calmness and a deep sense of union with God so that at difficult moments during the day I can feel the benefit of that prayer in the different reactions I experience and graces that have surprised me.
The Mass will always remain the greatest prayer for me.  I am not always able to celebrate the Mass with a congregation but I have discovered the great privilege of being able to celebrate quietly, without haste in my private chapel. 
I am struck occasionally when I contemplate the presence of Christ, certainly in that Eucharistic presence in the form of the host and the wine, but also when I hear a word from a prayer, a Scripture reading or a verse from a psalm.  It can be like an arrow penetrating deep into a worry or concern or an attitude I may be carrying at that moment.
Finally I have prayed for as long as I can remember in a more spontaneous way which is like an ongoing conversation with God about things that happen during the day. 
This prayer comes out of very ordinary events, and can be a prayer for a particular gift as I am engaged with an issue brought by another.  It can be a reflection on what I or the other person said or had done that surprised me or got my attention. 
It might be through some experience that elates me and fills me with joy.  Whatever sparks the prayer it brings me back into the presence of God and we talk again and I get to know Him and myself a little better.