by Angie Foster
Last month I shared some thoughts regarding prayer; I hope you might have found them useful. This month I am continuing on the theme of prayer with some further reflections on prayer and how it might help and support us in our daily lives.
The following information is taken from a reflection from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations from the Centre for Action and Contemplation:
Contemporary mystic and writer Beverly Lanzetta has thought deeply about how to live a contemplative life in the world. In describing prayer, she turns to Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) and Thomas Merton (1915–1968):
Teresa of Avila describes mental, (contemplative), prayer as, “nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with God who we know loves us.” We can imagine God as our intimate friend, with whom we share everything. We can talk to Him about our needs, complaints, and difficulties. We can ask for advice, offer thanksgiving, and make acts of faith or forgiveness for our sins. We can seek guidance for our children, or shed tears about illness and death.
Quite frequently, the most effective way to pray is found in darkness, emptiness. When we find ourselves simply open to the vast mystery surrounding us, when we centre our hearts on an obscure faith, and are absorbed into the divine Presence. This is the contemplation of night, when darkness quiets the soul, and we surrender to unknowing. Thomas Merton prays:
“Your brightness is my darkness. I know nothing of You and, by myself, I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing You. If I imagine You, I am mistaken. If I understand You, I am deluded. If I am conscious and certain I know You, I am crazy. The darkness is enough.”
James Finley describes what happens inside us when we commit to such a path of prayer:
“As you develop the habit of meditation, you will become more skilled in learning to enter more directly into a quiet state of meditative openness to God. Little by little you will experience yourself becoming more familiar with the inner landscape of your newly awakened heart. As your newly awakened heart is allowed to repeatedly rest in meditative awareness, it slowly discovers its centre of gravity in the hidden depths of God. . . .”
Since “God is love” (1 John 4:8), God’s ways are the ways in which love awakens you again and again to the infinite love that is the reality of all that is real. As you mature on the spiritual path that meditation embodies, you will consider yourself blessed and most fortunate in no longer being surprised by all the ways in which you never cease to be delighted by God. Your heart becomes accustomed to God, peeking out at you from the inner recesses of the task at hand, from the sideways glance of the stranger in the street, or from the way sunlight suddenly fills the room on a cloudy day.
Learning not to be surprised by the ways in which you are perpetually surprised, you will learn to rest in an abiding sense of confidence in God. Learning to abide in this confidence, you learn to see God in learning to see the God-given Godly nature of yourself, others, and everything around you.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts you would like to share. You can contact me at email@example.com