Saturday 8/15/2015 7:26 AM
I used to feel guilty because I felt that I didn’t pray enough. I had my regular devotional time of reading scripture and reflecting on what God was trying to say to me but when it came time for praying I would find my mind wandering or I would fall asleep. Over the years I have less and less guilt in this regard even though my pattern of prayer hasn’t changed that much. The reason I no longer have guilt is because I have come to realize that prayer is not simply asking or demanding things of God, it is a two-way conversation, where I both speak and listen. Some refer to that type of prayer as contemplation.
In her essay Contemplation in Time of War, Wendy M. Wright writes, “But contemplation is a form of prayer that leads us through and, ultimately, beyond our present concepts and images. The contemplative life, as a consciously walked path, is a process of letting go of the familiar ways we have known and experienced God. … The contemplative life is that radical and risky opening of self to be changed by and, in some way, into God’s own self. It is a formative life; it changes us and our perceptions. It causes us to see beyond our present seeing. Thus it is a life of continual dying, of being stripped over and over again of the comfortable and familiar, a life of letting go and allowing a reality beyond our own to shape us. From another perspective, it is a life of emerging spaciousness, of being made wide and broad and empty enough to hold the vast and magnificent and excruciating paradoxes of created life in the crucible of love.”
This is a better description of my prayer life. As I have prayed over the years I find that my thought processes have changed, my opinions have changed, my relationship with God has changed, my behavior has changed, and my empathy for others has changed. I struggle with what Wright refers to as the magnificent and excruciating paradoxes of life but I also find that the crucible of love has a seemingly limitless ability to accommodate those paradoxes. God, in his mercy, accommodates me and he calls me to do the same for others. I trust he will find me faithful to his calling.