So I'm in this Catholic prayer and faith sharing group or whatever they're calling it (it is NOT a Bible study, as the facilitator says every time I refer to a Bible passage not specifically mentioned in the accompanying book). It's already been established that no one is going to abandon the heresy of universalism (I'm not counted since I don't espouse it anyway), and the facilitator likes to brag about his Charismatic gift of tongues, if that says anything about what kind of group it is.
Back in the first week of the group meetings I mentioned that I pray part of the Divine Office every day (with the intention of eventually praying all of the hours each day) along with the Rosary and usually a novena to some saint for various intentions. I'm one of a few in the group who pray a daily Rosary (or try to--as one woman says, "the angels finish it for me," and to paraphrase another "while other thoughts race through my mind, which I am fine with because that's how God learns what's on my mind"), but aside from that the people in the group do things like pray while driving or make up their own prayers spontaneously.
The accompanying book often suggests praying one Psalm a day, so I pitched to seemingly deaf ears the use of the Divine Office as an opportunity to not only pray several Psalms a day but to be conscious of God throughout the day. My suggestions have often been directly or indirectly rejected on the basis that God does not listen to "structured" prayers like the Divine Office or Rosary so much as "what comes from the heart," as it were, and that such prayers are entirely optional for a person wanting to pray to God and should be abandoned if a person does not feel called to or comfortable with those forms of prayer. Most people in the group seem fine with the "thank you God for this," "God please do that for me," "God please help that one out" style of prayer. Someone once referred to Matthew 6:7 about the Rosary and Divine Office, which is ironic because the facilitator described his gift of tongues as standing up and speaking incoherently during whatever service he attends at the diocesan Charismatic Renewal center.
I was under the impression that prayer worked something along the lines of concentrating on whatever Psalm or mystery is being prayed while reciting prayers and not simply reading aloud whatever is in the Office, Bible, or reciting a Hail Mary for the Rosary. From my own spiritual practices I have often gained an inexplicable understanding or insight of some issue or Scriptural verse. Whatever the traditional Catholic school of thought on prayer is I will probably not learn from this group, especially since the book we're using includes such gems as the prayer litany of the anonymous US Civil War soldier and a suggestion to learn about prayer traditions from other religions. Are meditation and traditional forms of prayer like the Divine Office and Rosary preferred or can prayer just be any series of thoughts of or directed to God?