Thursday, July 7, 2016
I wrote a paper on prayer for a course my first year of seminary. It was a big deal. I didn't know much about prayer when I started and I didn't know much more when I finished. But I had twenty or so pages reflecting what the classic books on prayer said prayer was. Most people struggle with how to prayer and what prayer is says Hans Urs von Balthasar in his readable book on prayer and for my money the best book you can read on the subject. It is simply called Prayer and it is deceptively simple because as easy as it to read it will change the way you approach prayer. We pray to God because he first spoke to us, and is "always on the lookout for us". Prayer is dialogue even if it often feels like a monologue to us. We have our habits of prayer and feel like we have done it when we follow our routine whatever that may be. Von Balthasar wants prayer to be the way we "make as much room as possible, in ourselves, and in our world, for the kingdom of God, so that its energies can go to work." Prayer emerges from contemplation which is a big word that means making time to hear/consider God and the ways he has made himself known to us primarily through Christ and his love for us. God is always on the lookout for us is one way VB puts it or "faith's table is always laid" and we can choose to partake or not. God's love is always there for us revealing itself to us so we can understand and grasp it. It's not up to us. God has even given us the words to pray, i.e. the Lord's prayer. So, we can enlarge our understanding of prayer. Dialogue with God can happen in many different ways and at many different times. Pray without ceasing, Paul says. But, that means contemplate without ceasing. Let what you see, and hear, and read, and sing, and do open your life to the kingdom of God.