Prayer at the Heart of the Church

‘When you call me, and when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me.  Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you.’

Jer. 29:12-14

Undergirding this network of prayers is our private personal prayer. Since our foundation in 1625, it has been our precious Benedictine inheritance to make two separate half hours of prayer daily, usually morning and evening, so marking the contemplative nature of our life. In silent prayer we are united to God through our will to love and serve him.


However many distractions come our way, we simply keep returning to the presence of God. Our first abbess, Catherine Gascoigne, called this prayer ‘the one thing necessary’. This silent communion with God keeps us on course, like a compass needle pointing North.

Of course, life in community is full of the everyday tensions, joys and demands of life. It is through our prayer that we respond to these – not primarily with reasoning but with the wisdom of God’s love experienced in prayerful silence. Here we learn to hear God’s will for us even in the tiniest things, and it is he who opens our hearts to do his will.

There are struggles, some very painful, but prayer and life in community are the way of growth for Benedictines. If we are faithful, St Benedict promises us spiritual freedom:

‘We shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with inexpressible love.’ ( Prologue: 49)