Friday, 13 February 2015

Eclectic Orthodoxy: “People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer”

Eclectic Orthodoxy: “People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer”

'You must indeed pray for the right things; but the right things are not the noble high-minded things that you think you ought to want, they are the vulgar and rather infantile things you really do want. Genuine prayer is honest prayer, laying before your Father in heaven the actual desires of your heart—never mind how childish they may sound. Your Father knows how to cope with that.

People often complain of “distractions” during prayer. Their mind goes wandering off on to other things. This is nearly always due to praying for something you do not really much want; you just think it would be proper and respectable and “religious” to want it. So you pray high-mindedly for big but distant things like peace in Northern Ireland or you pray that your aunt will get better from the flu—when in fact you do not much care about these things; perhaps you ought to, but you don’t. And so your prayer is rapidly invaded by distractions arising from what you really do want—promotion at work, let us say. Distractions are nearly always your real wants breaking in on your prayer for edifying but bogus wants. If you are distracted, trace your distraction back to the real desires it comes from and pray about these. When you are praying for what you really want you will not be distracted. People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer.

Never mind then if your prayer seems “selfish” or childish. If you will be honest in prayer, acknowledging that you are not very altruistic, that you do worry about your own interests, if you just try to be, and admit to being, as you are, the Holy Spirit, I promise you, will lead you into a deeper understanding of who you are and what you really want. For prayer is not only a matter of asking, it turns out to be about learning as well, about growing up, about discovering yourself. When you lay your desires, your true desires, before God, you begin to see them in better perspective. Quite often you find that they are not, after all, the things you really want most of all. If you bring these desires out into the light, not only the light but the divine light, the light of the Lord, you begin to see them as important but not the most important thing to you. And so through the practice of praying, God will often lead you nearer and nearer to realizing that in the end what you want most of all is God himself.'

I liked this post. This is probably my approach to prayer. I pray for the things that are on my mind, whether they are selfish or not.

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