Thursday, May 16, 2013

Prayer Is the Act of Returning

Monroe County
The more we connect and dwell with God, the less dependent we are on the praise and blame of people. The less dependent we are on the praise and blame of people, the more free we are. And the more free we are, the more we are able to purely love people, even our enemies. Therefore focus on the God-connection in the first place. There, in what Henri Nouwen refers to as "the house of God," is where we experience the love of God.

Nouwen writes:
"As long as we are still wondering what other people say or think about us and trying to act in ways that will elicit a positive response, we are still victimized and imprisoned by the dark world in which we live. In that dark world we have to let our surroundings tell us what we are worth. It is the world of successes and failures, of trophies and expulsions, of praise and blame, of stars and underdogs... As long as we are in the clutches of that world, we live in darkness, since we do not know our true self. We cling to the false self in the hope that maybe more success, more praise, more satisfaction will give us the experience of being loved, which we crave. That is the fertile ground of bitterness, greed, violence, and war." (Nouwen, The Road to Peace, 17)

What, then, shall we do? The answer is: acquire a life of prayer, a life of much actual praying. In prayer we enter into intimacy with the God who made us and who loves us. "There," writes Nouwen, "in the first love, lies our true self, a self not made up of the rejections and acceptances of those with whom we live, but solidly rooted in the One who called us into existence. In the house of God we were created. To that house we are called to return. Prayer is the act of returning." (Ib.)