105 – Prayer – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

A few days ago I came across these few sentences of Kallistos Ware and it struck me at the time as some how very appropriate as we celebrate Independence Day.  See if you agree.

‘The principal thing is to stand before God with the intellect in the heart, and to go on standing before him unceasingly day and night, until the end of life.‘ The words are those of a Russian bishop in the nineteenth century, Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894), but they reflect accurately the understanding of prayer to be found also in Greek and Syriac writers of the first eleven centuries. Three points of basic significance for early patristic spirituality stand out in Bishop Theophan’s statement. First, to pray is to stand before God-not necessarily to ask for things or even to speak in words but to enter into a personal relationship with God, a meeting ‘face to face;’ which at its most profound is expressed not in speech but in silence. Second, it is to stand in the heart, in the deep center of the person, at the point where created humanity is directly open to uncreated love. It is significant Theophan avoids making any sharp contrast between head and heart, for he tells us to stand with the ‘intellect’ or ‘mind’ in the heart; the two are to be united. Third, this attitude or relationship of ‘standing’ is to be continual, ‘unceasingly day and night, until the end of life.’ Prayer is to be not merely one activity among others but the activity of our entire existence, a dimension present in everything else that we undertake: ‘Pray constantly’ (1 Thess 5:17). It should constitute not so much something that we do from time to time as something that we are all the time.  Since prayer is in this way a direct encounter between living persons, it cannot be restricted within precise rules; it remains free, spontaneous, unpredictable. (From “Ways of Prayer and Contemplation: I Eastern” by Kallistos Ware in Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century by Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff and Jean Lecercq, pp 395 – 396)

Does “free, spontaneous, unpredictable” describe prayer for you?


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