Folks, I want what I do to be for the village… the community… the place where the spiritual unites with the physical.
So, for me, taking classes at George Fox Seminary to get my certificate in spiritual formation is about more than just me. I am doing it because it is what I must do… for the community and for God.
I recently finished my semester paper for my class on prayer and as I wrote it with the community in mind it is important for me to share it here. I will be posting it up in sections over the next week or so. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
To read part 1, Starting with Prayer, GO HERE…
To read part 2, Prayer and it’s place in the Spiritual Life, GO HERE…
The difficulty of sustaining our prayer life
While prayer can be such a bountiful blessing, a centering practice, and a means of grounding ourselves in wisdom and truth, it is surely not easy. As I said above, we as humans are created with the desire to love and be loved, to know and be known. This is our journey. Unfortunately, we have a will, an ever-striving ego, which essentially drives us to take matters into our own hands, to seize control. This is not the relationship that God wants to have with us, but it has been the story of humanity, within every culture, every religion, and throughout all of time. We want to choose ourselves over a dependence on God and the community.
This problem has been exacerbated by advances in technology, transportation, media, and information. We are given more and more means of distraction, separation, and immediate gratification. Our prayer life is pummeled not only by our own need to take control, but by the systems that have gotten out of our individual hands and given back to us for our “convenience.” We have created the system and the system has nearly created us.
Let’s be honest… Prayer takes discipline. Prayer takes perseverance. Prayer takes patience. Prayer takes unconditional love, sacrifice, surrender, trust, giving up control. These are not things that the world we live in encourages. We must, must, must remember that the system we live in truly has NOT created us. God, the eternally loving, present, and revealing mystery has created us… and we have been created in his image, to be fulfilled only in relationship with him and others. Claiming this as our truth is a large step in the victory.
The human journey of becoming mature and grounded in our souls and our relationship with the divine requires us to make a break with the adolescent games of our society. It requires us to dive headlong into the mystery, to dig deep into the shadow, to find ourselves (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and to recognize that God meets us there. I believe our feel-good culture and much of our religious environment does not want us to go there. It just feels much easier and more comfortable for us to be distracted by the system. This is why it is so essential for us to get out and away… into the wild creation where we cannot control things, where we must trust, where we cannot hurry things along, and where we must wait. It is essential for us to recognize ourselves as part of creation, as dependent on the Creator… albeit a unique place in creation, but created nonetheless. This is where we meet prayer and prayer meets us. This is where the draw to prayer may overcome the difficulties… but we must leap over that fence, we must enter that dark wood, we must leap off that cliff, and we must wrap ourselves in that cocoon where we experience the full death of self that leads to the recreation of a beautiful, prayerful butterfly alighting on the breath of the divine.