Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to Pray

"Yet everything depends on this ability to stand still and to be present with full inner awareness."

"The basic meaning of the word 'collected' is to be gathered together, united.
A glance at our life will show how much we lack this aptitude. We should have a fixed centre which, like the hub of a wheel, governs our movements and from which all our actions go out and to which they return; a standard, also, or a code by which we distinguish the important from the unimportant, the end from the means and which puts actions and experiences into their proper order; something stable, unaffected by change and | yet capable of development, which makes it clear to us who we are and how matters stand with us. We lack this; we, the men of today, lack it more than did those who lived in earlier ages.

"This becomes evident in our attempts to pray. Spiritual teachers speak of 'distraction' as that state in which man lacks poise and unity, that state in which thoughts flit from object to object, in which feelings are vague and unfocused and the will ineffective. Man in this state is not really a person who speaks or who can be spoken to, but merely an unco-ordinated bundle of thoughts, feelings and sensations.

"Collectedness means that he who prays gathers himself together, directs his attention on to what he is doing, draws in all thought—a painstaking task—so as to dedicate himself to prayer as a unified whole. This is the state in which he may, when the call comes to him, answer in the words of Moses, 'Here am I (Exod. 3:4).[page 19]

"In it awakens not only the religious consciousness but a new and higher consciousness, which we might call the spiritual heart of the child of God.

"On this holy ground the reality of God becomes manifest. It may happen that man experiences it suddenly and is overcome by its grandeur and flooded by its proximity. If this happens, he knows that he is receiving the great and intimate mystery of prayer. He must receive it with reverence and guard it well. But such an event is rare indeed and more often than not nothing happens. The God of whom the worshipper had said, 'He is here,' remains silent and hidden. Then the prayer, supported by faith alone, must go out into this silent darkness and maintain itself there.

"In collectedness the worshipper says, 'God is here and here also am I.'" [Page 23]

[Romano Guardini, Prayer in Practice, Page 18, 23]

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