What follows is a three part series about prayer. The first section, which you are reading now, will discuss the identity of prayer; the second will go over how to pray; the third is an encouragement and framework for how to maintain a prayer life during stressful times such as these.
The vital link between human beings and true fulfillment is prayer. If you or I want to be happy in this life, we must connect ourselves with our spiritual lifeblood which is prayer.
The first time I realised that I was praying was when God first whispered into my ear, “I love you.” The one hundredth time I realised that I was praying, it occurred to me that God had been whispering those sacred words to me my entire life. I just didn’t know how to listen.
Prayer is that means by which the human heart becomes fused to the heart of God so that their separate beats become one, unified beating heart. It is like the grace of two birds soaring through the sky, seemingly reading eachothers’ minds so that they always remain together and yet never collide. Each plunge, each twist and turn is met reciprocally, knowingly.
Getting close to God is like soaking in the warmth of the sun on a spring day after a long and dreary winter. Just when you thought the stark cold would never leave, the sun breaks through and warms you to the marrow of your bones. As you watch your apprehension drift away in a gentle breeze, so also you see the crystalline snow melt into supple moving water.
It is the essence of comfort and peace.
To pray, therefore, is to jump off a bridge. We must first trust our instincts, and mistrust our cynicism. We must admit that we are imperfect and in need of another. God always knocks, we must jump in order to answer.
After the first moment of terror, it is bliss that follows.
No one embraces God lightly.
To perceive who God is, is to become enraptured like a fool desperately in love, devoting everything to Him. If not, we create some lackluster idol in God’s place. We create in our minds a great lawyer, or technician, or a wise teacher, and marginalise any benefit that God could have on our lives.
At worst, we worship ourselves in creating a “god” that placates our every desire. “He” would not want us to be sad, and all the while we implode into an ever greater abyss of self-adoration and, as a result, self-loathing, since no human being aside from Christ is worthy of such attention.
In prayer we learn instinctively about God’s nature, as a child perceives the inner workings of a game without explicit instruction.
It is a kind of knowledge that occurs subconsciously first, and consciously afterwards. With that said, God is not information.
God is not understood, but known. He is not contained, but embraced. He is not controlled, but supple in our hands.
We cannot put God into a box anymore than we could put the entire ocean into a thimble. In order to approach God, therefore, we must simply dispose ourselves into a posture of attention and heartfelt focus. As I have said, prayer is listening.
This listening must strive to be different than that of a careless student. We are not receiving instructions, but a life. It is received as a newly born child is received into the arms of a mother. It is caressed and cared for. It transcends the strata of information.
A life without prayer is a contradiction.
Prayer is the essence of being—the strings of string theory. It is the fractalised shimmer on the surface of a pond in response to blasts of naked wind, and yet the water itself.
It is only when prayer becomes the very essence of the air we breathe in each instant of our lives, that we fully appreciate what it truly means to be human.
Part 2 will cover how to pray.