Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Prayer is Not Like That or That...So Slow Down

"The great thing is prayer. Prayer itself. If you want a life of prayer, the way to get it is by praying. We were indoctrinated so much into means and ends that we don't realize that there is a different dimension in the life of prayer. In technology you have this short horizontal progress, where you must start at one point and move to another and then another. But that is not the way to build a life of prayer. In prayer we discover what we already have. Start where you are and you deepen what you already have. And you realize that you are already there."
Thomas Merton, 1980

   Just last week, I wrote about progress: about moving from one place to another. Our construction has been progressing. Our Vision Team - tasked with discerning how the Spirit of a God has made Epworth unique compared to 10,000 other churches - has been progressing. But, to be honest, I've had a sense that I've been standing still. 
Thomas Merton
   In the quote above, Thomas Merton, the contemplative giant of the last century, says that prayer is unlike the progress seen in these modern examples. Prayer is not about progress or movement from one place to another. It is discovering what we already have. I believe this helps to explain the struggle I've lived with this Season of Lent. I have struggled to pray. I have prayed - but not in the amounts or the quality that I know Jesus desires. It is not for trying. One part of my Lenten observance was to fast from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I've accomplished that goal almost flawlessly for five weeks now and have loved the extra time, but I have not translated this gained time to better prayer. 
   It is then that I re-read another passage from Merton that drives home how difficult this is. It is learning to slow down to the pace we were made for and give up the exhilarating, addicting speeds that our world now would have us believe are normal (and required if we are going to be counted as successful). Merton writes,

"If we really want prayer, we'll have to give it time. We must slow down to a human tempo and we'll begin to listen. And as soon as we listen to what's going on, things will begin to take shape by themselves."

   May this Easter come with a renewed sense of how much God loves us and wants to speak to us through the gift of prayer. May we be silent enough and slow down enough to experience this. Grace and Peace, Scott

No comments:

Post a Comment