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from The Art of Praying
Romano Guardini

Man likes to think of himself as active, striving, and creative. In this he is only partly right. He would in fact be even more right if he thought of himself as a restless being, incapable of standing still or of concentrating; as one who uses up people, things, thoughts, and words without, however, finding fulfillment; as a being who has lost the link with the center and who, with all his knowledge and abilities, is a victim of chance. This restless being wants to pray. Can he do it? Only if he steps out of the stream of restlessness and composes himself.

How close does this come to describing much of your prayer life? I don't mind saying that it is very close to my own. I sit down to pray, start to lay the groundwork, and five million incidental things flood in upon me and threaten to overwhelm me. Which bills are paid? What color should I paint the living room? Where should I go on vacation? Is Aunt Bechtilde really going to come and how will I deal with it? What am I going to do this weekend?

That's the downside. The upside is that all of these are legitimate concerns and as they flit through the mind, they can be offered up to God. We need not worry about all the things that try to drag us away from God, let them have their moment on the stage and then, let go of them. God has heard them, knows they're a concern, and He honors the sharing that starts with this preliminary movement toward prayer. This proximate preparation puts us in a good place to listen to God. Don't listen to the fear, concern, and busyness of the mind. Instead, learn to allow that busyness to occur without repression and learn to let it pass away gently. Always gently guide your thoughts back to God.

This is one of the reasons that St. Teresa of Avila recommends taking a book to prayer--preferably The Book, or more appropriately The Library. With a sacred text at hand we have an anchor, a place to return to, a way to come back to focus once again on God.

Some have recommended the techniques of centering prayer, and I suppose if they work for one, these can be every bit as effective. But whatever the technique, the end must be the same--recollectedness before God, preparation to love and adore Him and to Listen. Prayer is a time of conversation. As good conversants we should learn to be more entertained by active listening than by the sound of our own thoughts and concerns. (Not a bad idea in real life either--get those unruly thoughts under control and be truly present to the people with whom you are conversing.) Recollection--bringing ourselves together before we embark on prayer, letting go of concerns and distractions, and preparing ourselves to the present to the Lord, preparing ourselves to let the Holy Spirit teach, preparing ourselves to be remade in prayer and renewed in life.

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Stevn has a good post up on recollection.... Read More


This is the second discussion I have seen about this today. There is something like this going on at Disputations, too....yep, our minds are bees.

O Lord,
you are the God of the little things
as well as the big.

As I stand there cutting up onions,
making dinner,
you are there,
remind me to offer you the pain from my tired feet.

O Lord,
as I fold the sheets,
you are there,
Help me to stay with it,
even though I would rather be elsewhere,
Whisper to me and remind me
that the good that I do for others
is good done to you.

O Lord,
thank you for being there
when my kids make me want to scream
and run away.
Just when I am ready to throw in the towel,
there you are, teaching me about love,
and its cost,
and its worth.

Looking up at the mountains
at sunset,
I see the majesty of your work,
my heart swells at the glory of your power.
Looking at my husband,
I reach out and touch his hand,
hearing you say that
in loving,
and caring,
and suffering,
and sharing,
you are there, totally entwined,
the Lord of everyday life
and my heart swells with gratitude.

Most excellent exerpt from Fr. Guardini. A most Augustinian, Thomistical, Carmelitical, Trappist sort of vision, eh? And, yes, it describes me quite well - you ask if it describes our prayer life, and I can't say that it does because, er, I have to ask, What prayer life?


Yikes! Fr. Guardini's been watching me. Restless and unable to concentrate. Fortunately he probably couldn't stand to watch me too long.

Too often I fail even to make the time for prayer - even with something so helpful as Shorter Christian Prayer as a tool.

Even with tools like the Shorter Christian Prayer, I struggle. God, in his kindness, has helped me become a compulsive Christian poet and obsessed with the passion and the Divine Mercy devotion as a way to compensate.

Between that and the wonderful postings various blog owners do, I keep least a little while every day!

God is kind.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 8, 2004 7:20 AM.

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