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Have you ever tried using Celtic Prayer to pray?

At one level praying is fairly straightforward. It is simply starting a conversation. But the problem is you are talking to a person you can’t see with your eyes, nor touch with your hands, and whose voice you can’t hear with your ears. No matter how real God may be to you, there is always a problem with the fact that God is so different to humans. So some people try to be very other-worldly and hope they can have a sensible conversation with God that way. But even they have problems.

The early Celtic Christians, who flourished in Britain and Ireland from the 6th century onwards, did it differently. They discovered that God made himself known to them through the creation around them. They saw him in the sturdy oak and the opening primrose; they heard him shouting through the storm and whispering through a silent moonlit night. They learned to sense his presence through this blessed earth.

And so much Celtic prayer refers to Creation. Thus a prayer by the great St. Columba was written on a beach, probably on the island of Iona and there he ‘hears the waves chanting a tune to God’ and they in turn inspire him to worship God. He says prayers that rise from his soul, and everything he sees – the golden beaches, waves, rocks, seaweed – all become images that he uses in his prayers.

They also knew that creation could be very disturbed, and whilst it could be so beautiful, it could also be violent. We are told that when there was thunder and lightning around, the great St.Chad at Lichfield would turn to prayer, for such outward disturbance made him aware of inner disturbance in his own soul and he would confess all that he felt was wrong in his life which caused harm to others.

Jesus said that it was the “pure in heart” who could see God. The way to see God and hear God is to start with our normal human experience of this world, but then allow that seeing and hearing to touch our hearts. The Celtic Christians were people of the heart, and creation in all its moods, is a great way to allow our hearts to become open. Then with an open or “pure” heart we will find ways of having conversations with God.


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