Friday, November 23, 2012

Our varied experience of prayer

From a little book that has been a big blessing to me for many years:

The Lord Jesus himself will teach you
how you should pray.

He is the creative word
which you may receive 
in the silence of your heart
and the fruitful soil of your life.  
Listen attentively to what he will say;

Be swift to carry out
what he will ask of you.

You have been promised his Spirit
who will bear your poor little efforts
before the throne of grace;  
and into the intimacy of the Living God . . .

Your prayer will take countless forms
because it is the echo of your life,
and a reflection of the inexhaustible light
in which God dwells . . .

You want to seek God with all your life.
And love him with all your heart.
But you would be wrong
If you thought you could reach him.
Your arms are too short; your eyes are too dim;
Your heart and understanding too small.

To seek God means first of all
to let yourself be found by him.
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He is the God of Jesus Christ.
He is your God,
not because he is yours
but because you are his.

Your prayer is therefore not so much a duty
as a privilege;
a gift rather than a problem
or the result of your own efforts.

So don’t tire yourself out 
looking for beautiful thoughts or words, 
but stay attentive before God 
in humility and expectation, 
in desire and purity of heart 
full of joy and hope. 

Your prayer will take countless forms. 
because it is the echo of your life, 
and a reflection of the inexhaustible light 
in which God dwells. 

Sometimes you will taste and see 
how good the Lord is.
Be glad then, and give him all honour,
because his goodness to you has no measure.

Sometimes you will be dry and joyless
like parched land or an empty well.

But your thirst and helplessness 
will be your best prayer
if you accept them with patience
and embrace them lovingly.

Sometimes your prayer will be an experience
of the infinite distance
that separates you from God;
sometimes your being and his fullness
will flow into each other.

Sometimes you will be able to pray
only with your body and hands and eyes;
sometimes your prayer will move
beyond words and images;
sometimes you will be able
to leave everything behind you
to concentrate on God and his Word.

Sometimes you will be able to do nothing else
but take your whole life and everything in you
and bring them to God

Every hour has its own possibilities
of genuine prayer.

- H. Van Der Looy in Rule for a New Brother


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