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Jul 062016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the ninth section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 9)


Richards

Photo by Michelle Evans

Richard’s Answer To Question #3

Have I had an experience of awe and wonder? Describe that experience in detail. What was my reaction? What questions arose in me as a result of that experience? What was my response?

 

 

 


It was Sunday morning and I didn’t go to church. The reasons are legion, but that will have to wait for another day. After my wife and son left to go I took a long slow walk around our neighborhood. As I walked I practiced attention.

I paid attention to what was going on in my body. I became aware of my feet falling on the pavement, and of my breathing. I began to count my breathing and to think of the sacred phrase I use in my time apart. Breathe in — “Lord”. Breathe out — “God”. My breathing became synchronized with the steps I was taking. I began to walk up an incline, and became aware of the subtle difference in the effort it took to take each step. I felt peaceful, much like I do when sitting in meditation in my time apart. When my mind would wander I would come back to my breathing and my sacred phrase.

Then I noticed the trees. I noticed that some of them towered over the houses in a way that was truly majestic. There were all kinds of different species, both evergreens and other leafed trees. Some looked healthy and some not so much. Some were dead or dying. I noticed the branches all interwoven with each other, and leaves that were all different shades of green. There was a slight breeze, and the tree limbs were swaying back and forth, especially in the upper branches. Sometimes my attention would return to my steps and my breath and my sacred phrase.

Richard Walking

Photo by Winnie Southworth

Then my attention spontaneously switched to the sounds. I could hear the slight breeze passing by my ears. My attention moved quietly between the sounds of locusts, crickets, and birds. Then I became aware of the sounds of sirens in the distance, and I wondered what the emergency was. Was it a fire, an accident, and illness, some kind of crime? For just a moment I wondered about the people involved. That concern became a kind of silent prayer without words.

Sometimes my attention switched to the houses and to the cars that came by occasionally. I wondered about the people in those houses and cars. I saw a young woman check her mailbox and walk toward the house. What were these people thinking? What were they feeling? What was their life like? And again that silent interest became a kind of prayer without words. Again sometimes my attention would return to my steps and my breath and my sacred phrase.

But then sometimes all of the images and all of the sounds would fade into the background and I became aware of just the silence behind the sounds and images. (See my previous post) Even the awareness of my steps and my breathing and my sacred phrase faded away. There was no need for even that practice. There were no thoughts, no emotions, and no impulses. There was no need for any kind of prayer. There was just the quiet and a deep sense awe. There was just the sacred presence of that Mysterious Other I call God, in the quiet, and in the images, and in the sounds. All that can be said here, all that needs to be said here is amen!


Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 (This Post)

Jun 292016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the eighth section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 8)

An Experience of Prayer
A Call to Depth

It is important to recognize here that we can have any of these experiences whether or not we have any kind of current prayer practice. We can have experiences of awe and wonder, suffering and loss, and self-awareness without any current involvement with prayer at all, and if we are open to it those experiences can call us to prayer. But those experiences can also grow out of our current prayer practice as well, and again, if we are open to it, they can call us to deepen our current practice. Our lives obviously can be out of balance and call us to a deeper sense of balance whether or not we pray.

Yet beyond all of that we can have experiences of prayer in its own right. All too often we approach prayer in such a way that we have no expectation of any real experience. We “say our prayers”—our to do list for God—and we go on with the next item on our own to do list. We have no expectation that the Mysterious Other we call God will respond, or even show up at all. What is worse we often actually have an expectation that God will not show up and thus we are not really open to any kind of direct experience at all. Yet in spite of all of that sometimes we can have profound experiences in prayer that break through our defenses and surprise us and call us in ways we cannot imagine. These prayer experiences can call us to deepen our prayer practice and grow and change in ways that surprise us and challenge our preconceived ideas about prayer.

Richard At Alter

Photo by Winnie Southworth

Many years ago in the early days of my practice I wrote this personal prayer, and it has stuck with me all these years. I still use it to begin my time apart.

Come Holy Spirit of God
Rise up in me.


Fill me with your presence.

Open me to your wisdom and your guidance

and your strength
and your courage.


Grant me the grace of your love,

Your peace,
and your joy.


Come with me into this special time

Go with me as I take on the rest of this day.

Richard N. Southworth

As I came to my time apart this morning I was stuck in my writing in just this section. I knew what I wanted to say, but I simply could not figure out how to say it. How does one write about prayer experiences without sounding sentimental or presumptuous, two things I wanted to avoid. As usual I began my time by reciting this poem. I stood in front of my personal alter with my hands extended and my palms facing upwards, and I began: “Come Holy Spirit of God, rise up in me…” As I finished the prayer I realized suddenly that the answer to my writing dilemma was in this prayer. In it I was praying for that Mysterious Other I call God to “rise up in me”. I was seeking to connect with my sacred inner being. I was seeking presence, wisdom and guidance, strength and courage, love and peace and joy. Essentially this prayer I wrote many years ago was a list of possible prayer experiences. This insight was itself one of those experiences.

It is beyond the scope of this reflection to examine each of these types of prayer experiences in detail. The crucial thing here is for us to acknowledge to ourselves that they are possible. That Mysterious Other we call God can and does “rise up in us” and offer us “guidance, strength, and courage”, “love and peace and joy.” Those experiences can be quiet and peaceful, or they can be profound and emotional. Our job is to be open and listen and to be obedient to what we hear.

That all said, how do we know that what we experience—what we hear—comes from that Mysterious Other? How can we be sure these prayer experiences are real? It is beyond the scope of this reflection to examine the discernment process in any depth, but let me say this. If you are “prayed up” as my wife likes to put it, if you are praying regularly, you know. Somehow deep inside you just know, and that knowing calls to us. Sometimes suddenly and sometimes over time an ever deepening prayer is born out of those prayer experiences.

  1. Have I had experiences in prayer when that Mysterious Other I call God was present to me and called me to deepen my prayer practice?

Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer (This Post)
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

 

Jun 152016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the sixth section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 6)

Self-Awareness
Accepting Responsibility

This calling to prayer can also manifest itself through a profound experience of self-awareness. When I threw the plate of food across the room that was a real moment of self-awareness for me. There had been all too many other such moments–all too many angry outbursts followed by fussing, cussing, and, maybe most importantly, indignantly blaming others for my reactions. This was different. There was the food and broken pieces of the dish all over the floor and the wall, and there were the looks from my family. And there was the silence that followed. That silence was deafening. My wife finally just got up and started cleaning it all up which somehow capped the experience for me. Something clicked in me. The self-awareness was palpable. The guilt was palpable. Somehow I knew this event was mine. I had to own it. I was responsible for this reaction, not the other people in the room—me! Somehow I knew this time I could not blame this on anyone else. But the responsibility went deeper. I was aware that I was also responsible for the effect these reactions had on the other people in the room as well. I do not know why this particular event brought this level of self-awareness, but it did. On one level I suspect it was because of the broken plate and the food on the floor and the wall, but there was something else. Something deeper. Something unexplainable. Something mysterious. Some would say that God intervened. Some would say that the time was just right and I was in the right place. On some level I agree with all of that, On another level I sense something more, something even deeper. In the silence of that moment prayer was born—prayer was deepened. In that moment I was called in a powerful way to pray in a deeper way. In that moment I was called to grow and change in a new and more powerful way. I was called to be transformed. That call—that prayer—is still active in me today. After some twenty-five years the anger still shows up from time to time, and still calls me to prayer. Someone once pointed out that we have a real awareness of sin when we become aware of how much we hurt others just being ourselves. This was such an experience. This experience of self-awareness was not only a call to prayer and transformation it was a major turning point on my spiritual journey.

Richard In a mirror

Photo By Winnie Southworth

It is very important to recognize here that the specific issues involved in this experience of self-awareness will be different for different people. In my case the issue was anger and the effect that anger had on my family. For some, the issue is substance abuse, extra-marital affairs, emotional or physical abuse, unavailability, etc. The possible issues are legion. This self-awareness does not always involve hurting someone else either. Sometimes it can at least seem to only affect the quality of our own life. It also does not have to be something blatantly serious either. It can be something as simple as watching too much television and not spending time with our loved ones, The crucial point here is that we become aware, suddenly or over time, of some behavior that is hurting others and/or ourselves. In the end it is becoming aware of something in our life that needs to change, where we need to grow and be transformed. It is becoming aware of a call to take responsibility for that growth and transformation. In that self-awareness prayer is born.

Yet, like the other experiences we have looked at, we can avoid this calling as well. We can choose to see it as a momentary event and fail to take it seriously. We can convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do about it. What is worse we can even pray about it, ask God to fix it, and continue to go about our lives as we always have, waiting on God to fix it. Essentially we can fail to take responsibility for the problem—we can remain unwilling to do the real “work of the spiritual journey”. In the end we walk away from the call to prayer and sometimes we walk away from God.

Question for Reflection

  1. Have I had an experience of self-awareness that called me to prayer and to growth and transformation? How did I respond? Describe the experience and the response.

Other Posts in this Reflection:

Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness  (This Post)
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

 

Jun 082016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the fourth section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 5)

Suffering and Loss
Another Call to Mystery

This calling can also manifest itself through an experience of suffering or loss. We face the death of a loved one. We face a serious illness. We face our own impending death. We lose our job, or our home. A family member or close friend commits suicide or becomes involved in drugs or alcohol. Our spouse tells us they want a divorce. We experience some kind of physical or emotional abuse. The specific examples are legion, but whatever the event is, it leaves us torn apart inside. We realize that our life will never be the same. We begin to question the very foundations of our lives. We no longer see the world as a comfortable or safe place for us. Sometimes we just sense that our lives are being wasted, that time is passing us by, and that time can never be recovered. Just as an experience of awe can lead us to ask those seemingly unanswerable questions, an experience of suffering or loss or aimlessness can raise those same questions, albeit in a different form. Where does this suffering come from? Why is this happening to me? Why now? Where did I go wrong? How am I called to live my unique life in the face of these painful events? Even if I knew, how is it possible to live that in the face of these realities? How can that Mysterious Other, if in fact there is a Mysterious Other, allow all of the pain and suffering that I see all around me to happen? Again, ultimately the only satisfactory answer is to sit quietly in the face of this pain and suffering and listen— just be present—and in that moment, when we finally sit quietly and listen, prayer is born.

Prayer at Grave

Photo by Winnie Southworth

But just as with experiences of awe and wonder we can miss this opportunity as well. We can focus on the suffering or the loss and fail to appreciate the mystery that is to be found in it. All we can see is the suffering and the loss. We cannot even ask the questions about the future. Even when those questions do come to mind they often only serve to enhance our sense of suffering and loss. They remind us that our life is changing, often in dramatic ways we do not understand. The questions remind us that our loved one will no longer be a part of our lives. The job that has supported us and become a central part of our day-to-day life has ended. Our best friend and confident has moved away, and no longer keeps in contact. We ourselves or a loved one experiences a serious long term life changing illness or receives a fatal diagnoses. The questions are legion. Why me? Why now? If we are religious how could God let this happen? If I pray will God fix it, whatever it is? What do I do now? These and other similar questions seem to have no satisfactory answers, and they serve only to increase the pain and suffering.

In the end these questions are a failure of our sense of mystery. They block us from looking seriously at the real questions the situation presents. What am I called to now? How am I called to be transformed, to change, to grow, and to respond to this unexpected event in my life? What mysterious plan is this event opening up for me? It is when I become open to these questions, it is when I become open to the great mystery that is my life, that is my future, that real prayer becomes possible—becomes the only real satisfactory response. It is precisely here that we have the opportunity to listen to that sacred inner voice where that Mysterious Other we call God speaks, and allow that voice to guide us, and give us the strength and the courage to move into the next phase of our life. It is in this opening that prayer is born out of suffering and loss—if I am open to the mystery to be found there.

  1. Have I had an experience of suffering or loss? Describe that experience in detail. What was my reaction. What questions arose in me as a result of that experience? What was my response?,

Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss (This Post)
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

 

Jun 012016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the fourth section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 4)

Awe And Wonder
A Call to Mystery

This calling manifests itself in our lives in different ways.  Maybe the most obvious way is through experiences of awe and wonder.  We look up at the night sky on a clear night and we see thousands upon thousands of stars.  We realize the vast amazing wonder and mystery of the universe.  We sense with amazement our tiny but wondrous place in it.  We look into the face of an infant and realize with awe and wonder that it is a part of us and yet it is somehow unique from every other being in this vast universe.  We are awestruck wondering what this tiny writhing potential might become.  In the face of these and a thousand other wonders, questions rise up in us, sometimes just perceptibly and sometimes powerfully,  and they call to us.  Where does it all come from?  What does it all mean?  Where do I fit into the vastness of this great universe?  What does my life really mean?  Who am I called to be?  How am I called to live my unique life?  How do I know?  How is it even possible to know?  Even if I knew, how is it possible to actually become that in a world that is so full of its own demands, its own agenda for our lives?  How do I connect with that “something” that is behind it all—how do I connect with that Mysterious Other we call God?  For some these questions rise up in a specifically Christian context.  For others they rise up in more secular terms, or in the language and symbols of other religious traditions.  However they are phrased, these questions call to us profoundly, and the only satisfactory response is prayer in some form.  Ultimately the only satisfactory answer is to sit quietly in the face of the awesomeness of it all and listen.  In that moment prayer is born in us.

Rachel As A Baby

Photo by Winnie Southworth

Yet in our culture experiences of awe are not all that frequent.  The dictionary defines awe this way:

An overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.

How often do we even use terms like reverence, grand, sublime, extremely powerful?  These words point to something beyond our routine experience.  They point to something beyond our knowledge and understanding. They point to something that spiritual writers across religions have referred to as mystery.  Again the dictionary defines mystery this way:

Anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.

It is that sense of something that is unexplained or unknown that lies behind the feelings like reverence,  grand, etc.  It is that sense of mystery that makes those feelings? overwhelming.  To experience awe and wonder we must be open to a sense of mystery, and for many of us that sense of mystery has been lost.  If we are outside at night at all we are usually on a mission.  When we look up into the night sky we see the many stars and the moon, if we are paying attention, and if those heavenly bodies are not hidden by too much light pollution.  Yet science has given us just enough of an explanation for all of that to satisfy us.  We may see the beauty, but not necessarily mystery and awe.

With all of our busyness our minds are too full for us to even look beyond that.  With all of our technology we can find answers, such as they are, to most all of our questions.  But even beyond that it seems that we no longer think really deeply about much of anything.  We accept the easy answers provided by the culture, the church, and Google, and thus seldom even recognize the unanswered questions and the mystery that comes with those questions.  That sense of awe and wonder escapes us.  In the process we miss the opportunity for that call from the Mysterious Other we call God.  We miss the call to prayer.

  1. Have I had an experience of awe and wonder?  Describe that experience in detail.  What was my reaction?  What questions arose in me as a result of that experience?  What was my response?

Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder (This Post)
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

 

May 252016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the first section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 3)

History
Responding To A Call.

We can trace this call to prayer back to the earliest days of human existence.  Archeologists have found paintings on cave walls and the remains of all kinds of ritualistic activities going back thousands of years indicating early human responses to this inner call to prayer—this call to relate to something deeper and bigger than ourselves and yet a part of ourselves, long before there were organized religions per se.  In more recent times all of the varied cultures of the world have developed innumerable responses to this call.  In states that have tried to suppress it, it has endured, sometimes in the underground, and sometimes in open defiance and rebellion. The Nazi holocaust is but one blatant example.  As awful as that time was many of the victims of that atrocity still found ways to respond to that inner call. We have only to look at The Diary of Anne Frank for one powerful example. Admittedly some of these developments have been questionable—even destructive and violent, but many of them have also been passionate and life giving.

Cave Drawings

Image from bigstockphoto.com

Whatever else that can be said about the vast array of religious practice we humans have developed over the centuries, it seems clear that there is a deep inner call in us to connect with something deep inside of us and all around us—a call, the only formative response to which is prayer with all of its challenges, in all of its complexity, in all of its different forms, and ultimately in all of its beauty and sacredness as well.  In the end we pray because we must, but that sacred inner voice calls us not just to pray but to go further.  It calls us to go where we sometimes are reluctant to go.  Prayer, if we take it really seriously, calls us to change, to growth, to transformation, and to conversion of heart. It calls us to live truly authentic lives.  Prayer calls us to live our lives differently, and to be present in the events of our lives in a whole new way. This change and growth—this movement toward authenticity, is the thing we long for in the deepest part of ourselves, but it is also the thing we often fear the most. We long for it because it calls us to become the very essence of who we were created to be—of who we truly are. We fear it because, intuitively we know it will change us in ways that we cannot even imagine.

Make no mistake, true prayer taken seriously is hard work. It is The Work of the Spiritual Journey. As we shall see, it is more than having a relationship with that Mysterious Other we call God. It is more than the traditional approaches of praise, adoration, communion, conversation, petition, penance, and forgiveness. It involves all of those things and much more. Prayer, in its deepest sense, also involves solitude, listening, discovery, and incarnation. In the end it involves something the monastics call Divine Union. In the next several reflections we will take a look at each of those topics.

  1. Do I feel a call to spiritual growth, transformation, and conversion of heart? What would it take for me to respond to that call?

 


Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History  (This Post)
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

 

May 182016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the first section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer.


 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 2)

Why Do We Pray?
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

Beyond that basic answer—“because we must”—why do we pray—really?  For many of us it almost seems like a non-question.  And yet, can any of us answer that question in any depth?  The quick answers are simply not enough.  Because we learned to pray as a child. Because the bible tells us to pray, Because Jesus told us to pray.  Because we have been exhorted to pray in countless sermons and Sunday school lessons.  Because it is just part of what we do as Christians.  These reasons, and many others like them, are all valid on some level, but on a deeper level they are not enough, or what may be worse, for many of us they are just enough that we do not look beyond them. In the end we often do not really even ask the deeper questions that lie behind those more obvious answers, if in fact we even suspect there are deeper questions.

If we really do ponder the question of why we pray at any real depth all kinds of related questions arise, and some of those questions make us uncomfortable.  Who is this Mysterious Other we call God that we pray to?  What does God expect from us when we pray? What do we expect from God when we pray?  Will our prayers be answered?  How will they be answered? Do we even take time to listen for a response? Do we even expect an answer?  Do we realize that listening in prayer is at least as important as speaking? Could we ourselves be responsible for some of the things we ask of God? Does prayer really work? What does “work” even mean when we speak of prayer? What does prayer actually mean in the reality of our day-to-day lives?  Then there is the question that troubles us the most: will prayer change us? Are we willing to open ourselves to that possibility?

Praying In Church

Photo by Winnie Southworth

These and many other similar questions have festered in me for many years, long before I even began any kind of conscious search for answers, and long before I had any prayer practice at all.

For some of us the questions are reversed—why don’t we pray? In many cases the underlying questions are essentially the same. On some, often preconscious level, the answers we received to those questions were not enough, or even seemed non-sensical to us, and we wrote prayer off. In my own life, even though I have felt a serious call to the spiritual life most of my adult life, prayer did not seem to offer any satisfying option for just these kinds of reasons. I have continued my own search and ultimately found answers that work for me, at least for now, but I am still searching for deeper answers. I suspect I will always be searching for those deeper answers. Some of us though, avoid the whole religious/spiritual endeavor because the answers we got to just these and other similar questions were unsatisfying. Unfortunately many do not ever find that prayer of their own at all.

If we are serious about prayer—if we are ever to develop “a prayer of our own” we must take these questions seriously. We must never settle for the pat answers. We must make these questions into our meditation and our prayer. Seeking satisfactory answers to these questions must be an ongoing part of our spiritual practice—of our prayer practice—of the way we live our lives.

  1. Do I currently pray? Why? Why not? Describe my current prayer practice. Does that practice change the way I experience and live my life? In what ways?

 


Other Posts in this Reflection:

(Part 1) Introduction View…

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray (This Post)
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

 

May 112016
 

This post is part of a series entitled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of Our Own.  It is the first section titled Reflection II:  Because We Must: The Call To Prayer


Daniel In The Sun

Photo by Sandra Marrs

 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection II
Because We Must
The Call To Prayer
(Part 1)

Introduction

There is an inner spirit to human life.
It lives at a very deep level of our lives and functions quietly.
So much so that it may not even make itself known unless deliberately allowed and encouraged.   Nevertheless—
It is the fundamental guide to an individual life and provides the basis on which we make our way
The spirit looks very deeply for value
That matters,
That motivates,
That creates positives,
That frees authenticity,
That gives life power.
This spirit transcends religion
And seeks beyond the confinements of a belief system.
The spiritual needs and deserves enhancement through
Nourishment, time, care and stimulation.
The life and journey of the inner spirit is the true journey of life.

William Roberson

It seems to me that the simplest answer to the question “Why do we pray?” is the most profound.  We pray simply because that “inner spirit” Roberson speaks of so powerfully calls to us—and “we must”.  That still small voice—that inner spirit inside of us, calls to us, and prayer is the only meaningful response.  We must listen, and we must respond.  We pray because we are responding to that sacred inner voice deep inside of us.  We can run from that voice.  We can deny its sacredness.  We can even deny it’s very existence entirely, or we can settle for some psychological explanation.  The call is still there, waiting for us, pressing us, calling to us, whether we are paying attention or not, demanding a response from us, often when we least expect it and even when we least desire it.  Left unattended to, this inner calling sometimes imposes itself on us in myriad ways, some positive and some negative, some inward and some outward.  In one way or another we all respond.  Spiritual masters throughout history and across traditions have taught this, and I have learned the truth of it from personal experience.  It is ultimately our choice whether our response or lack thereof leads to growth and service, to apathy, to deformation, or sometimes, to violence.  Listening to this sacred inner voice and living our lives in response to that voice is the very essence of what spirituality and prayer are all about.  It is what all true religion is all about, or at least should be.  It is what being fully human and fully alive is all about.  Consciously choosing our response to this inner call and being obedient to that call will determine the very direction and the quality of our life.  Choosing to follow that voice intentionally is ultimately what true “conversion” is all about.


Other Posts in this Reflection:

 

(Part 1) Introduction (This Post)

(Part 2) Why Do We Pray View…
Seeking Satisfactory Answers

(Part 3) History   View…
Responding To A Call 

(Part 4) Awe And Wonder View…
The Call To Mystery

(Part 5) Suffering And Loss View…
Another Call To Mystery

(Part 6) Self-Awareness View…
Accepting Responsibility

(Part 7) Life Out Of Balance  View…
A Vision Of A New Life

(Part 8) An Experience Of Prayer View…
A Call To Depth

(Part 9) Richard’s Answer To Question # 3 View…

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