Monday, June 6, 2011

Unceasing prayer

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what authentic prayer is all about. Henri Nouwen expresses it very powerfully here:
To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. ... Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts -- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful -- can be thought in the presence of God. ... Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centred monologue to a God-centred dialogue.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I certainly get the part about putting God into a pious little niche where we think pious thoughts and feel pious feelings - everything that turns me off about "being religious." I'm not sure how thinking my shameful thoughts in the presence of God moves me from a self-centered dialogue to a God centered dialogues any more than sharing all my shameful thoughts would move me into dialogue with others instead of making everything about myself. But it certainly gets at one of the hangups I've always had about prayer.


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