What is prayer? There have been many times in which I have asked myself this question. I also know that there are endless amounts of answers, definitions, and interpretations of what prayer is according to Saints, theologians, women and men religious, social justice activists, and so on. And yet, I myself have not found an answer that has centered me. Also, as I am Candidate within a Religious Order, I become frustrated with myself at times, because I do not feel comfortable with a “traditional” style of prayer in which I close my eyes, fold my hands together, recite prayers, or sit in silence. Especially as a Dominican, I know that I must root myself in the tradition of contemplation and bearing the fruits of that contemplation.
For me, as a woman of African descent, I have an understanding that prayer and spiritual practices are at the foundation of my heritage, since the beginning of humanity on the continent of Africa. That being said, I have turned to my ancestral community for guidance, one especially being, Sr. Thea Bowman. Out of all the many Saints, theologians, women and men religious, social justice activists that I have read and studied, Sr. Thea, touches my heart in such a real and personal way. In her autobiography, Thea Bowman In My Own Words by Fr. Maurice J. Nutt, Sr. Thea has a profound section on the power of prayer. She helped me to understand that we must come to know our own selves in such an intimate way in order pray, because prayer is a lifelong learning process and a journey with yourself and God. So, as we all continue our own journeys with God, we must honor our own ways of prayer, even if we have not found out what it is just yet.
Megan Graves, Candidate
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin