Sunday, 20 October 2013
Prayer? What is prayer?
What struck me mostly in the Gospel this week is when Jesus says at the end of the Gospel “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth”. The previous chapter of the Gospel is about how people lived their lives going about their business, but not thinking about what was to happen. There was no connection with the here and now, and the eternal reality which is God, and they found that their daily toil ended in nothing as suddenly the end came.
What is the alternative? Prayer, continual prayer so teaches Jesus.
When we don’t pray we don’t have real faith. We might have some believe, but faith is something more then believe. One of the priest I live with said once that faith is like a guide-stick, who somebody who is blind uses. It guides you along live, prevents you from straying from the right path, but nevertheless it does not give you sight of where you are going.
Faith is like that, it guides us, even if we don’t know it. Believe, on the other-hand, is something that might give us trust in an endpoint, but does not help us to get there. Faith is more then belief. It is an assurance which flows forth out of the communion we have with God himself. It is a life changing reality which comes forth out of the love we receive from God. Faith is nourished by the love of God, when God takes us by the hand, God who is the guiding-stick and leads us through life. An ordinary belief which is not build on a communion with love does not lead anywhere… God is not so much absent as not invited in… the aid is offered, but not accepted.
But how do we except Gods help, and develop a life-giving faith.
Prayer is the way to make sure our faith is alive and formed. Our faith is this burning flame, hopefully a furnace, which lights our way. It gives us guidance and, it is the result of our communion with God.
What is prayer?
One way to pray is to read the bible. St. Paul said to Timothy that “from [scripture] you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Scripture nourishes us, as scripture is the Living Word of God. When I became a Catholic eleven years ago I did so because I started to pray. I opened up my heart to God and allowed Him to guide me. As I didn’t know how to pray, one way was spending a couple of minutes in a church each day asking God to help me, the other was to read 10-15 minutes of scripture every night before going to bed. It was this reading of scripture, the instruction of the Living Word into my soul, to which I contribute the change in my life.
But building up this relationship with God takes a bit of time. The colleague, responsible for the turn I made, said to me that if I would be consisted in my attempt to find God, and would persevere for a month, or two or three, then I would see the change in my life very clearly. And it didn’t take that long, I noticed God’s presence much quicker, and I opened my heart to accept it. I want to say this to illustrate the truth that Jesus teaches us in the Gospel.
Persevere in prayer! Justice will be done speedily. The Ancient Greek meaning of Justice, according to Plato at least, is the right ordering of things. God will see to it that things will be ordered rightly, that things will be done justly. But this does not always happen in the time we want, but it happens in Gods time. For God the temporal situation in which we find ourselves is NOT the most important thing. If we ask for something here and now, it is only of minor significance compared to the Good God has in store for us for eternity. That is the bigger picture to which justice is orientated. It is the picture of the beatific Vision, which will be the good in store for us who are willing to take that road.
The road to Heaven is a road of love, it is a road on which we let go of selfishness, and seriously start to engage with the personification of love, which is God and who we encounter in Jesus.
Again, what is prayer!
This is what prayer is!
It is the letting go of self, engage with the love of God, and loose yourself in it. It is like the human experience of falling in love, and especially the experience of falling in a mutual love. But it is only comparable, as it is life lead by a blind-mans-guide-stick, often without seeing much of the road ahead walk. It is love, and we are lead tenderly by the hand of God, but first we need to let go and trust.
Even when things get though, we need to trust God is there, like Moses who had Aaron and Hur to support his arms in prayer, so God himself supports us in times of need if we let Him!
So what about you?
What is your experience of faith? The experience of prayer. Is it this deep, insensible experience of the more, that which something for which our heart is ultimately yearning? This inexplicable, yet tangible assurance which is at the core of our lives? That is faith! That is what it brings.
I sometimes wonder how many people are aware of this gift of faith which God is offering us, and life it. How many pray daily and read a bit of the scriptures, and continue to see their lives transformed. 22 years of my live I didn't realize the reality of who God is, and the beautiful change this discovery makes in ones live. Realizing ultimately what we are made for.
I say this not because I am a Dominican and because I want to ‘win souls’ for the Church. NO, it comes forth from my own experience of the profound Joy of MY faith and how much I want others to experience this joy!
Only when I opened my heart and started to search out God did this reality open up for me. Through starting to say a prayer. To persevere in this unknown, and un-sensible activity, and to be surprised that after some time it suddenly is at the core of my whole life.
This is an experience like no other, it is deeper than any words can describe, and sometimes only be utterable in groans. But please let us be open to God, if you don’t read a bit of the New Testament each day, maybe consider it, open your heart, and let yourself be surprised! God has draw me in, and want to do the same for all of us!
The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.