|Red Admiral butterfly on my lilac tree|
James Houston's The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God is a very good, very deep book. I recommend it to anyone who is acgively engaged in praying.
Houston tells us, among other things, why praying is so important in these times.
First, we live in an increasingly fragmented world. We have increasing specialization, which distances people from one another. The idea of the "Renaissance man," someone who was knowledgeable, educated, or proficient in a wide range of fields, is largely gone. In religion, faith is being presented as a marketable commodity. "All this specialization shows how our society has broken up into separate fragments." (56)
Houston writes (this is so good!):
"Prayer alone can give us a sense of coherence in the broken-up world. Prayer at the beginning and end of each day and meal, prayer at the beginning of each week and with each cycle of the year, reminds us that our practical, everyday pursuits are not the whole of life.
Prayer shows us that life makes little sense if this is all it is: making money, making love, making a name for ourselves, making idols. The poverty of affluence, the failure of success, the emptiness of material plenty, the moral laziness of being busy - all these only make us hungry for something deeper. They drive us to a new concern for our inner needs, for friendships that last, and for spiritual resources that strengthen us inside. They make us long for a personal relationship with God to replace the emptiness of modern life.
Prayer too can overcome our own fragmentation inside. Many people have an internal division between what they think and what they do, between belief and action. In fact, many religious people see their faith as a set of beliefs, rather than as a living relationship with God. Only a life of prayer can bring healing to our divided selves, and to our divided relationships with other people." (56)
I love how Houston expresses this. I have found, and continue to discover, that in my times of prayer God shows me what is really important in life. Prayer orients and prioritizes me. Prayer kindles the fire in me towards:
- knowing and loving God
- Linda and my sons
- my church family and friends
- my students