Tuesday, 4 July 2017
In Tune With God
Last week I reflected on why I pray. I concluded with the statement that I pray because I know it is necessary for my salvation and the salvation of the world regardless of those theological questions which can be voiced by me within or by others in the outer life. This week I want to reflect further on what I mean when I say it is necessary for salvation, mine and the world. Perhaps this is where fools rush in because salvation is a topic which is fraught with possibilities and misunderstanding; Hence, my further rumination on the subject.
One of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations this week spoke of contemplative prayer as being like striking a tuning fork. He notes, “All you can really do in the spiritual life is resonate to the true pitch, to receive the always-present message…Most simply put, prayer is something that happens to you (Romans 8:26-27), much more than anything you privately do”.
This begins to approach what I believe about prayer; or I should say trying to believe. Prayer of all kinds, contemplative, intercessory, thanksgiving, is, I believe, about becoming more in tune with God, what God is, what God’s intention for us is and what God’s intention is for God’s world. The challenge in prayer is that we try to have our intention take precedence over God’s. This is where the ego gets in the way. We want different things in life; sometimes it is for the benefit of others e.g. healing from disease; sometimes it is for the benefit of the world e.g. caring for God’s creation; but often it is for our own benefit. We believe that we can bring God’s will into line with our own because we know what is best for whatever it is we are praying for. We can add at the end of our prayers, your will be done. Jesus emphasized that in the prayer which he taught us, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. I do just that at the end of my prayers. However, I question to what extent I or other people truly believe that they want God’s will to be done when it doesn’t coincide with ours.
I have been practicing Centering Prayer for a few years now as part of my daily prayer practice (my daily intention in any case). Centering Prayer is a form of silent prayer in which you make space for you to be more aware of God’s presence in your life. This can be a bit of a challenge because generally nothing seems to be happening, other than having many distracting thought as my “monkey brain” keeps interrupting my non-thoughts. My ego wants to be able to accomplish something, to measure success or at least that I am becoming better at centering prayer; perhaps going the usual 20 minutes without any distracting thoughts. However, that is not the point. Distracting thoughts are not a defeat. The goal is to just let them go; to not hold on to them and return to the centering emptiness.
The goal, if it is not counterproductive to think of a goal, to become more in tune with God. This in turn will, hopefully, bring all of my life more in tune with God’s intention for me and for the world. It is not a replacement for living in the world; rather it is a tuning to God’s intention for the world and try to live in a way that is more in tune with that. That, for me, is salvation.
Blessing on your journey.