~ Pondering Prayer ~
The mornings are not full of promise, but rather promise fulfilled. The promise of prayerful communion with my beloved Father. Like the psalmist, I am so anxious for this time that "I wake up the sun." Like a thirsty deer following the gurgling of a cool stream, my spirit pants for my wondrous Creator.
There are many types and forms of prayer, but I don't think about them anymore than I'm inclined to structure a relaxed exchange of words and silence with a loved one into categories. The best prayers have no planed ending time or conclusions. "Praying without ceasing" isn't a goal, but a way of life, a way of being.
Often I feel like the opening of Psalm 130: "Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my pleadings." That's my call to prayer. Often I use the "we" form. "Out of the depths we cry to you, Lord; O Lord, hear our voices!" It is a call to the trees, animals, wind, and all creation to join me. At those times joy rises out of the depths. Other times a sadness grows out of the depths, because the "we" I say includes the burdens and pain of my suffering brothers and sisters, those I personally know and those I know about. Their voices join mine - this I feel in the depths where we join in His Holy Spirit. My heart swells with the voices of the afflicted, oppressed, hurting and unnoticed children of God scattered around the earth. My voice speaks for some too weak or distracted to plead for the Lord's mercy.
I am never alone in prayer. I am in the midst of a great assembly of saints and hosts of angels. The wind of the Spirit penetrates my heart. The consuming flame of His heart burns in mine. He knows the multitude of voices reverberating in my depths better than I do. He knows each by name. He already knows what each of us are going to say, collectively and individually. But as loving human parents do, who know what their children will say, He waits in loving patience for our feeble stammering because we need to speak out of the depths and He needs us to commune in Him. It's all about our love for each other.
Of course my body changes. My mind steps aside to respect my spirit's time and place with the Almighty and the All-Humble God of my heart. How could my breathing and billions of neurons not alter my senses? "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord" is not a poetic metaphor. I am not "myself" anymore. Why would I be myself when, instead, I could be His self? I'm His. Surrender…rest…let go…fall into His depths with self-abandonment.
Now I am reminded of Psalm 131: "My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters, or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a resting child with its mother, like a resting child is my soul within me." This is the Holy of Holies of prayer, accessible to all through the Incarnated Word, the Christ, torn open by the flaming power of His Holy Spirit, the same Spirit now resting as the Christ child in my heart. So my heart cannot be proud. My eyes cannot be haughty. These things are too great and wonderful for my concern. My soul must be still and quiet. I must be attentive, listening.
In attentive listening I learn much in prayer. Wisdom and Light radiates from the Presence in the Holy of Holies. "Be still and know…" I accomplish nothing. I earn nothing. I reach nothing. Christ emptied Himself for me. I empty myself for Him. Only now can I, in attentive stillness, be that cup that He fills and overflows. Of course my cup overflows. How can I contain Him? The overflow saturates me with loving grace. It's all grace. Unmerited, but joyfully welcomed.
Typically the physical eyes flow with tears. The tears speak varying words to the Father. They often have a voice of their own at this point, for the self is standing aside in worshipful homage to Yahweh. The psalmist says our God carries the tears in a jar. In those tears are the depths of thankfulness and wonder, of pleadings for merciful help and deliverance, for healing and sanctification, for the desires of the heart. Not just for me. The tears of my brothers and sisters mingle with mine. I invite them in prayer. The tears of my Jesus are in there too. Our prayers move Him. He promised us they would. In attentive stillness, we need not believe in His promise - we can feel Him move in response. He loves forgiving our flaws; He loves nurturing us; He loves making us more like Him; He loves responding to us; He loves us.
In the Holy of Holies, a day is like a thousand years, a thousand years like a day. Can't tell how long we've been in prayer. The height of the sun or a watch can tell us. Scripture tells us we can clothe ourselves in Christ. That is so good. Then we can walk on into the day or climb into our beds to sleep for the night, in unceasing prayer. It continues until we break the attentive stillness of our souls. But we can catch ourselves when we do, and stop to enter prayer again, many times a day, perhaps every hour, perhaps every minute. Such is the marital bond between the Lamb of God and His Church. Constantly whispering to each other, "I love you," with deeds, words and silence.
(Writer's anonymity requested)
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Weekly Reflections © April 13, 2002
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