I just got home after having another 90-minute session with the “Catholic guys” in prison. I chose to speak to them tonight about modes of prayer (contemplative, meditative, verbal) and the types of verbal prayer (supplication, thanksgiving, praise), with an eye toward challenging them to “shake it up” in terms of their daily prayer life.
Interesting thing, though. It’s axiomatic that you find bibles at the jailhouse gate — tossed aside by so-called men of faith as soon as they secure their release. I have no doubt that once the men in my group serve their sentence or are paroled, many of them will have little or no contact with organized religion, and will quickly grow out of the habit of daily prayer.
Yet … I couldn’t help but be impressed by the spiritual sophistication of many of the men in this group. They already experiment with varied modes of prayer, and their understanding of prayer not only as an encounter with the divine, but also as a window into themselves, was impressive. I dare say that these men “get it” better than most of the people I encounter in my parish.
An upbeat, and somewhat humbling, experience.