Friday, June 12, 2020

In Prayer

In the mystical language about prayer there’s a lot of talk about alternation, as if God is hiding from us, going and coming, all of that. But in truth there’s really no way for us to get away from him, God in Christ hasn’t gone anywhere, which isn’t to say he’s intrusive, far from it. But he is the One who is always knocking, always waiting for us to wake up to the reality of his nearness. We are made to live with this kind of relentless loving expectation, for "a person in love is always awake." This is the secret of holiness, the secret of contemplation we’re made for. It’s not too high-falutin; we are meant to be mystics, called to incessant prayer, which Augustine tells us is living in incessant desire for God, incessant awareness of our hunger and need for him. 

Our prayer is ultimately about powerlessness, for the mystery of God’s presence is constantly revealed even as it is hidden. So, vigilance is essential because God is always reversing things, doing it his way, sneaking in quietly through the side door, even on tiptoe, trying to engage us in unexpected ways. This is God’s "modest but insistent, incessant plea for our love." This plea is in our gut; we sense its presence, its power and pull even now. But the waiting often seems so passive and so much of our praying may seem unrewarding and flat. The danger is that we will believe that nothing is happening. Don’t be fooled. The Divine Thief is always at the door, ready to sneak in. He rewards our attentiveness; he is attuned to our deepest yearnings, our vigilance. And if we are meant to live in incessant desire for him, it is because he is always at the threshold of our desire, longing for us more than we realize. 
Photograph by Brother Brian.