About Prayer

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I loved this passage.

from Ascent to Love Sister Ruth Burrows,
quoting Wendy Mary Beckett, "Simple Prayer," in Clergy Review

The simplicity of prayer, its sheer, terrifying, uncomplicatedness, seems to be either the last thing most of us know or want to know. It is not difficult to intellectualise about prayer--like love, beauty and motherhood it quickly sets our eloquence aflow, it is not difficult but it is perfectly futile. In fact those glowing pages on prayer are worse than futile; they can be positively harmful. Writing about prayer, reading about prayer, talking about prayer, thinking about prayer, longing for prayer and wrapping myself more and more in these great cloudy sublimities that make me feel so aware of the spiritual: anything rather than acutally praying. What am I doing but erecting a screen behind which I can safely maintain my self-esteem and hide away from God?

The writing is less than grand, but the idea is perfect. Too often I take any recourse to escape from prayer. What am I afraid of? Perhaps it is the Keatsian, "Being too happy in thy happiness, thou light-winged dryad. . ." Perhaps it is loss of identity, perhaps it is any number of a thousand other possibilities. But the reality is that I use all of these escape mechanisms and more. Do you?

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what do you mean by losing idenity? I never thought of how that related to prayer? For me, I'm addicted to prayer. It's like the runner who is used to the high of the chemicals released after a run. If he doesn't run he feels like something is missing.

Dear Hector,

If you don't know the fear, I can't tell you about it. Just count yourself among the blessed. For a great many of us prayer is, if not an ordeal, at least a chore of sorts. That doesn't mean we don't do it, but there is often little consolation to it. As I said, you are among the blessed. God makes a few like you to serve as inspiration to the rest. I suspect that my sort is more common (unfortunately) than yours.



Thanks Steven. I can't relate. I once took a class and the professor was talking about pennance, I think. It had something to do with sacrifice. He mentioned prayer as one of the activities. I raised my hand and asked "how can it be pennace if it gives instant pleasure?" He answered as you did. I guess there's great diversity of gifts and blessings...



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 28, 2005 1:19 PM.

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