Thursday, November 15, 2007

on attaining to true prayer

One of the pastors I work with copied this chapter called "On Attaining to True Prayer" for me out of an old Quaker text on prayer, but I don't remember what the book is called so I'll have to edit this later after I ask him. Anyway, a couple things stood out to me as I was reading this chapter. It's talking about how to pray, in silent times and throughout the day.

First, I appreciated this line: "Those who have not learned to read are not...excluded from prayer; for the great Teacher who teacheth all things is Christ himself. They should learn this fundamental rule, that 'the kingdom of God is within them;' and that there only it must be sought." It's a good reminder that we don't have to be educated to know God, even though now (in the US anyway) it's likely that most of us know how to read.

Second and even more interesting: "Constant prayer is to keep the heart always right towards God. ... A son who loves his father does not always think distinctly of him; many objects draw away his mind, but these never interrupt the filial love; whenever his father returns into his thoughts, he loves him, and he feels, in the very inmost of his heart, that he has never discontinued one moment to love him, though he has ceased to think of him. In this manner should we love our heavenly Father."

The whole "pray without ceasing" thing has always seemed kind of daunting, but this makes it make sense. I don't think it's just excusing us from something difficult, but it explains how to pray in an unceasing manner--loving God fully at all times, even when we're not thinking about God directly. This makes a lot of sense to me.

And lastly, this sentence stood out to me: "The less we practise silent prayer, the less desire we have for it; for our minds being set upon outward things, we contract at last such a habit, that it is very hard to turn them inward." I think that's a very true and profound statement. I've found it to be true in my life that the less I "practise" silent prayer the less I desire it, and the more I practice it the more I miss it if I skip a day, or yearn for it if I have to put it off for a while. It's a great thing to be addicted to! I hope I can become more addicted every day!


Stephen said...

The quote is from A Guide to True Peace or The Excellency of Inward and Spiritual Prayer published by Friends from 1813 to 1877 in Philadelphia and is based on the writings of Guyon, Fenelon, and Molinos

Leah said...

you have a gift for communicating spiritual things. I am always inspired by your blog entries, and once again find myself reading them instead of doing homework :)

Lovin' Life Liz said...

Just stopping by to wish you Happy Holidays! :)