Over the next several weeks I would like us to think together about the different forms our prayers can take. But before we look at different prayer practices, I would ask us to keep in mind two things.
First, keep in mind the words of Robert Mulholldand we have shared over the past three weeks. He has reminded us that silence, solitude and prayer are not to seen just as spiritual practices along side other practices but form “the inner dynamics of how we engage in the disciplines, the deep inner posture of being we bring to the disciplines” (Robert Mullholland, Invitation to a Journey, p 136).
Second, even while we speak of the “discipline of prayer” we must never reduce prayer to mere discipline, rules or obligation. Flora Slosson Wuellner writes,
“The most direct response to [God’s love], the widest door we can open, is through the relationship we call prayer. For it is a relationship and not primarily a discipline. Most of our problems with prayer arise from our tendency to turn spiritual growing into a set of laws or a gymnastic exercise…. It is best to have some deliberate opening each day, but we need not be troubled if the form or expression change. That is as it should be. God’s love is a growing personal relatedness in which we are loved and challenged to love without limit.” (From Exploring the Way: An Introduction to the Spiritual Journey by Marjorie J. Thompson, p 41)
We must not let the “practice” become more important than the relationship. The “form” to so take our attention that we seek perfection of the “form” and fail to seek God.
At the same time, Wuellner and others tell us we should be “deliberate” in opening ourselves to God.
That will be our challenge – To find what in our life deliberately opens us to God’s relationship to us without mistaking that thing for the relationship itself.