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Aug 072017

This post is part of a series titled Choosing Authenticity: A Prayer of My Own.  It is Part 1/9 of Reflection V: of that series titled Conversion of Heart | Saying Our Prayers Is Not Enough.

 Choosing Authenticity
A Prayer of Our Own

Reflection V
Conversion of Heart
Saying Our Prayers Is Not Enough
(Part 1)



Photo by Winnie M. Southworth


The word “conversion” usually brings to mind someone leaving one religious tradition and joining another, or perhaps joining a religious tradition for the first time.  Often it is seen as a singular, perhaps even dramatic event.  But the Hebrew-Christian scriptures present a different image.

In this understanding, conversion begins every time I become aware that something other than the love of God has taken the central place in my heart and life.  This “something” need not be bad; in fact, it might be something very good: a job, a cause, a relationship, an activity.  The giveaway that it has become too central is that I am not free to lessen its importance in my life.  As good as it may be, it has enslaved me.  When that awareness is accompanied by the grace of remorse, the process of conversion has begun – or begun again.

Yes, conversion is a process – not a single event.  The Latin origins of the word reveal that it literally means, “to turn around.”  The act of turning around only points me in a new direction; but I am still standing where I was before.  Real conversion occurs as I begin, and then continue the journey of a new way of life and toward a new destination.  The Christian life is just such a journey: repeatedly becoming aware of how I have strayed from the path of the Gospel, and thus my need to change direction, a little or a lot, and return to “the Way” (as the earliest Christians called it).*

Rev. J. Patrick Foley, Ph.D.

When I was a Special Agent with the state police another Agent and I were working a really complex fraud allegation at a government agency.  We had reviewed dozens of boxes of documents and interviewed a myriad of people, some several times.  At one point when the investigation was pretty much complete we found ourselves sitting in a conference room staring silently at all of the boxes, reports, etc. for a a pretty long time, kind of overwhelmed.  Finally the other agent looked at me for a minute and said quietly “So what does it all mean?”

It seems to me we are at a similar place here.  We have talked about dozens of different aspects of prayer and the spiritual life.  We have talked about who and what that Mysterious Other we call God is and is not. We have talked about a myriad of different approaches to prayer, and quoted several different authors.  We have considered many reasons why we pray or why we do not pray.  We have talked about many of the different ways we approach prayer.  In the last reflection we talked about the importance of listening to that still small voice within where God gives us guidance, and to our presence in the events of our active lives, and we talked about how important it is to be obedient to what we hear.  So, as my colleague said, “So what does it all mean?”

What it means for me is that just saying our prayers is not near enough.  It brings me to the conclusion that, after all of the questions, topics, and reflections, in the end prayer is, at its very core, about personal growth and personal transformation, and what the monastics call conversion of heart and Divine Union.  Anything short of that is simply not enough.


* Foley, Rev. J. Patrick, Ph.D., Conversion | Turning Around, guest blog post on this blog on May 25, 2012

If you liked this post, check out the other posts in this series.

Conversion of Heart:  Saying Our Prayers Is Not Enough (This Post)


Coming Soon…

Conversion of Heart
What Does It Really Mean?

Divine Union
Letting Go Of The Ego

Work v. Grace
Finding Balance

Care of the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Seeking Wholeness

Healing Old Wounds
Letting Go Of The Past

Becoming Authentic
Incarnating Our True Self

The Real Reason We Pray
To Be Transformed


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