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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Musings on prayer

In recent days I have been reading some newsletters from a mystic in the mid 20th century. 2 big notebooks of his letters were gifted to me some years ago, but I was not led/motivated to delve into them until recently.

The first one is from 1954 on prayer. His point of view is that speaking, thinking, writing or anything involving words would not be prayer, but rather preliminary to prayer. Prayer is silence when God is the speaker. It dovetails into my practice of centering/contemplative prayer which I have returned to for several years now. I first learned this Christian practice years ago when I was a minister in Hawaii. Related to this practice are various forms of meditation which I have also practiced. The entering the silence is key to being able to hear the "wee small voice," although I sometimes experience it as a big loud voice.

The mystic basically says that the only kind of prayer that uses words & is still "Prayer," is something along the lines of, Let the mind that was in Christ Jesus be in me. I have been saying this prayer rather consistently now for a couple of weeks & find it to be quite powerful. I don't really like to take other people's word, but instead I like to try out their ideas & see if they resonate in my heart & mind, in my daily walk.

I am deeply committed to silence/contemplative prayer, but I think that limiting prayer to this only is not developing my full relationship with God. While God, being infinite, already knows what I need, I often find it helpful for me to focus it & bring it to God in prayer. My clarity, my faith, my deepening spiritual walk are all facilitated by both silence & speaking. I would not like to eliminate one or the other. I am more of a both rather than either/or kind of person.

Jesus seemed to model both kinds of prayer. He went apart & into silence. He also spoke prayers, the most famous of which has been called The Lord's Prayer. If it is good enough for Jesus to practice both kinds of prayer, it is good enough for me.

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