A few months ago I was reflecting on seven “genres” of prayer, and then I applied them to a Psalm and to the Daily Office. As interesting as they may have been, they weren’t very relationally-oriented. So what I thought I’d do now is look at how a healthy relationship with God – our Father, the risen Christ, and the powerful Spirit – makes use of these “genres” of prayer.
Today, I wanted to look at adoration. Prayers of adoration are primarily about our lifting ourselves to God, seeking to enjoy His presence, and asking for nothing. This is often also thought of as a form of contemplation, including the more mystical aspects of Christian piety. Adoration, as the very word suggests, is generally a more emotional form of prayer, expressing love for God and receiving love from God. As such, those with a particularly ‘heart-based’ faith will relate to this much more easily than a ‘head-based’ or ‘hand-based’ person. Nevertheless it’s an important form of prayer for all of us to pursue.
Think about other relationships we have, with friends or with family. There are many ways of showing and experiencing love. Among them is simple adoration – there are times when we simply bask in the enjoyment of another. This is easiest to picture between spouses: though not everyone’s into it, there are moments when they just look into each other’s eyes and enjoy each other’s presence. This could well move on to other forms of love-communication, but simple adoration alone is a distinct form.
My original post on the seven prayer genres has a beautiful example of a prayer of adoration which I won’t re-paste here. It was written by a 17th century pastor, Jeremy Taylor, to help his parishioners learn how to pray. Obviously, prayers of adoration will easily look very different depending upon who is praying. Some may be reflecting on God’s beauty, others His truth, others His compassion, others His holiness. Some may not use words at all! People can adore God by meditating on a small set prayer like The Jesus Prayer or the Agnus Dei, or by reflecting upon a picture or an icon, or listening to music, or beholding God’s creation or a consecrated host, or contemplating in utter silence and seclusion.
For some people, this may sound like the ultimate form of prayer, while for others it sounds fluffy and difficult to focus on. Surely, this comes more naturally to some than to others, but either way it is an important form of prayer that we all should practice and get to know. It’s not our only communication with a relational God, but it is one prayer genre which we can’t neglect.