Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pray always? Yes! As the Lord commanded!

One who is religiously “awake” can pray always. Such a person can, as the title of the spiritual classic by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection suggests, “practice the presence of God.”

Brother Lawrence writes, “The Presence of God is our spirit in contact with God. It is a realization that God is present, made known to us either by the imagination or the understanding.” By means of understanding, we can accept the truth of the concept that we are always in the presence of God. (See
Psalm 139, as well as much of the Confessions of Saint Augustine.) God is omnipresent, therefore, wherever we are, we are standing before God.
By means of the imagination, we can picture ourselves in the constant company of our loving Father, Who delights in His children, always offering His love and guidance. I think it is especially fruitful to make such a use of our imagination. So many Christians I meet conduct themselves as spiritual orphans, living in a world that offers them no provision or protection. Sadder, perhaps, are those Christians who think of themselves as before the constant presence of the Divine Tyrant, Who must always be appeased, and Whose Love must be earned—if it can be had at all.

If we are to pray always, as Jesus said, we must learn to live in the presence of God, Who is our loving Father Who wants the best for us. We must learn to be open to a mysticism of immediacy, that is, we must be open to and alert for God’s revelation of Himself at each moment and in every circumstance. God does not stop working in creation and God does not stop speaking to creation. If only our eyes and hearts were open to see Him.

Of course, that finding of God in the thick of things, including daily busy-ness, times of crisis, seasons of joy and of sorrow, must be complemented by a rhythm of withdrawal from the fray so that we can be alone with God Who is with us always. This is what Jesuits mean when we speaking of God calling us to be “
contemplatives in action.”

The only good prayer is to pray always. At every moment, even in the most chaotic and unlikely moments, God is at work and can be found. That openness to finding God at every moment must be strengthened and refreshed by the freedom necessary to withdraw ourselves, as circumstances allow, so that we may have time alone with the Lord. We may always draw near to God, always and everywhere, but the wisdom of the saints and Scriptures teaches us that sometimes, to draw near to God, we must withdraw from the world, at least for a while.

Pray better? Not really. Pray more? Sometimes. Pray always? Yes! As the Lord commanded!

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