There is a story I love about three ancient Irishmen who set out in a little boat without oars, drifting across the sea from Ireland to Cornwall, where they were brought to the court of the king. When the king asked them where they were from and where they were going, they replied, “we stole away because we wanted for the love of God to go on a pilgrimage and we cared not where.”
It seems to me we should be like these Irish sailors when we pray. Sometimes we get all caught up in our list of things to pray for or the form of the prayer, and the destination becomes the purpose. Structured prayers are good, and useful to help us focus our hearts and minds on God. Prayer lists and prayer journals are valuable ways to record our prayers and remember those we want to pray for. But we should also enter into prayer with no destination in mind, for the love of God alone, and follow the Holy Spirit to where we are led. When we do that, every prayer is a pilgrimage, a journey devoted to God.
“Lord God, help us to throw away the oars and steal away on a pilgrimage with you, not caring where we go, knowing that you are with us and your Holy Spirit will guide us. Thank you for giving us the freedom to follow you, and for being with us always on the journey. Amen.”