on prayer…

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In recent days I’ve been challenged on the subject of prayer. After a year away from church and a bit of a detoxifying of sorts from church culture, I realised that I had ‘lost’ the ability I once had to pray. I guess by this I mean being able to articulate my thoughts towards God in my own words, and also losing any sense of what prayer actually does.

Those of you who have followed my journey will know that I’ve been influenced by the thoughts of the mystic St John of the Cross, who speaks of the dark night of the soul, a place of emptiness, of loneliness and separation from God where our best efforts to connect fail. I’ve also recently learnt of the apophatic theology movement, and identify with much of what it has to say about how we understand (or not) God.

All this is to say that I have wrestled with this. I come from a Christian tradition of holiness that values an active and participative prayer life, where we lift all our concerns to God, publicly and privately, but somehow, this ground to a halt as I grew disillusioned with my experience of it. Words of empty meaning have stopped, words that once flowed easily when behind often lay great doubt.

I know what prayer is, what it’s meant to be. I know how different traditions view it. I’ve experimented with liturgical approaches, trying to use someone else’s words, words almost as old as the church sometimes to keep things going when my own words have dried up. I know the importance of praying without ceasing, of persistence through the dry times. I know the value of doing this in community – but that at its heart prayer is an intensely personal and private thing.

Moved by Martin’s #God52 movement I am going to pray simply in these next few days. I’m going to try and speak out words that express who I am and where I am.

I’m not demanding an answer, or angry with God for not answering prayers previously spoken. I just want to be honest. Honest is matching what I believe with what I say with what I do. Living Kingdom, praying Kingdom. I suppose the reality is that I feel disconnected, and know deeply the need to do something about this, as if something is…missing. Is it like an addict desperate for a ‘hit’ of something from my past, or something much more profound moving deep within?

I value rhythm – maybe this be the start of a new rhythm that reconnects me.

Here’s praying…

3 thoughts on “on prayer…

  1. I’ve found that when my prayer life is a mess (too often!), sometimes – though not always – getting back into a rhythm where I pray something like a short daily office has helped. Sometimes just the discipline of putting some time aside and praying as it directs me helps me get into a rhythm and to a point of calm where I can encounter God – maybe in new and different ways. It’s helping me to wait on God rather than expecting God to conform to my expectations. There are no easy answer to this prayer thing, I don’t think. I hope your experiment goes well.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Diana, and for commenting. I really appreciate your thoughts. I have to say that there has been cause for prayer this week – I might post on it over the weekend, so perhaps my basic prayer of ‘help me pray’ went the wrong way?

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