I have been praying to God in ernest this month. I know that there are some people who no longer believe in prayer because they no longer believe that there is some God in the sky type figure, but I do not pray to change things as much as I pray to shift me. Prayer changes me. I have done centering prayer, chanting, sacred music, movement prayer, pleading prayer, and simply yelling/crying prayers this past month. It did not matter so much what kind of prayer that I was doing. It only mattered that I prayed because each time I prayed, I shifted my awareness back to the Divine. Shift to the Divine shifts me because I create an opening within me to listen.
Being busy all the time made me hungry for God. I had put my prayer life to the back shelf of my day as something that I pulled out when the going was getting tough. Do not get me wrong, I certainly did my best to listen to guidance while running my center. However, connecting to God was not my first priority in my day. God had to be fit into the time that I had left after giving everything else away. I was running on empty with my inner light going unfed by God. Having this backlog of emotions pushed me back to what mystics call the dark night of the soul where what once fed me spiritually no longer did and I felt like I was in the dark without God. In a dark night, my whole being ached for God, and I felt completely alone. I have been in the darkness with the ache for God enough times to know that I must go in and through it in order to release it to the light. Denying the darkness only creates a backlog of despair, while turning to it with God creates healing.
I was supposed to attend a meeting for my seminary group, but I had spent the day crying tears that I could not name. There was just a deep, unnameable sadness within me. My friends were encouraging me to join the call promising to lift my spirits. I am grateful for their concern, but I knew that the only thing that could console my spirit was God. I needed to connect within rather than without. I needed to surrender the sadness and cry my tears to God because it was only God that could infill those places within me with tender love. Nothing but God consoles us and helps us. It is always God that we are truly seeking, but often fill that longing with busyness, addiction, and numbing activities, instead of connecting within. In my tears that night, I saw parts of me that were still holding onto attachments about what I thought my life should look like and that felt unlovable unless I was accomplished. I cried those parts to God, and it shifted me to a release of some very old beliefs. Choosing God over any other type of distraction was the only way that I was going to transform the darkness to the light.
The mystic St. John of the Cross wrote, "Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.” Love with God is created in the difficulties of life and the longing for connection. It is not easy to discipline ourselves to pray, especially in a world filled with distractions. Through prayer, we persevere to a deepening with God. It does not matter how we pray, it simply matters that we pray.
My questions for reflection this week:
1. What ways do you pray?
2. What kinds of prayers feed you?
3. What in your life needs to be surrendered to God?
4. How can you create dedicated space to pray?
5. What ways has prayer changed you?