There are very few people one encounters in daily life that can be referred to as icons, that is, windows to the Divine. Gareth Kieck is just one such man, a modern mystic who exudes a joy that can only come from a deep and personal relationship with the One whom he knows loves him. I was interested in chatting to him about how he nurtures that relationship – a practice most people understand as ‘prayer’. In the Christian tradition one of it’s pillars, St Paul, instructs the believer to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But how exactly does one attain this goal in a world distressed with hyperfrenetic inattention?
One expression of this practice of unceasing prayer is called the Jesus Prayer, an ancient ascetic practice, esteemed in the East and the West. A symbol that has embodied this prayer is the Christogram. A Christogram is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ. The inscription on the outer ring is the Jesus Prayer, written in Romanian Doamne Iisuse Hristoase, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluieste-ma pe mine pacatosul (English translation: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner).
But I digress, let me return to Gareth and his 5 tips for praying constantly:
- Speak to God as an intimate friend: I speak to God as if he is my brother, a brotherly figure that I look up too. In the same light He is also the Saviour and so sharing stories of everyday life, gifts and sorrows, is important.
- Reserve times to connect: Set aside time where you can open your heart and reflect on each bit of your day. I personally, at the start of the day, five times (for Jesus’ wounds) pray “Heart of Jesus, gentle and humble, make my heart resemble Thine” or thirty three times (for Jesus’ age at the crucifixion) “Jesus I trust in you”. At 3pm I also like to recite the Divine Mercy chaplet. Be honest with yourself and offer up the times you have fallen and also appreciate the joyous moments by thanking God.
- Tell God you LOVE Him: This can be done through words or deeds. But sometimes just stopping in your day and exclaiming “I love you Lord”, even in the most trying of times, can lift your spirit (and set it free).
- Retreat to the desert: Have a way to get away from the world. Whether that is walking in nature, going to Mass, praying the rosary, or singing – we all need that peace with our Lord and we can only receive that when we bring ourselves to peace.
- Call on the saints: Ask the saints to aid you with their prayers – they are such beautiful champions that lived amazing lives, and they were human like you and me! In the divine economy everything and everyone is connected so asking them to support you and those you love in their prayer is like asking your best friend to intercede on your behalf. What’s more amazing is that they are experts in prayer. So why not lean on and learn from them!