Why Pray?

If we can slow ourselves and quiet ourselves, these words may speak into that question:

“It is through prayer… that one will be given the most powerful light to see God and self.” (Angela of Foligno)

Reflecting on her years in monastic life with its prayerful patterns that she didn’t always value, Joan Chittister adds this word:

“It took years of repetition, years of chant strung high as a wire, years of recitation droned into space for me to realize that like water on a rock, the words were melting into my soul, etching furrows in my mind, turning me into themselves, disappearing into the whispers of my heart.  Prayer, the regular discipline of resting in God, had become a way of life.”

Later, I found this, in response to Angela of Foligno’s quote:

“When we turn God into a vending machine, when we pray to ‘get’ things rather than to get God–there is no ‘enlightenment’ in that.  When prayer is a journey into the mind and heart of God, into the nature of life, into the shaping of a holy heart, then it is necessarily enlightening.  We come to understand ourselves: our fears, our darkness, our struggles, our resistance.  Then we are faced with choice.  That is enlightenment.”

Then a final section spoke of one other danger in prayer, that we might try to use it as an escape from life.  This was addressed swiftly:

“If prayer becomes the way we give ourselves permission to escape life around us, it is not prayer.  It is some kind of self-induced hypnotism, at best.  Real prayer plunges us into life, red and raw.  It gives us new eyes.  It shapes a new heart within us.  It makes demands on us.  It requires that we become the hands of the God we say we have found.”

And that is plenty for today.

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