Sunday, March 09, 2014

Prayer and Compassion (PrayerLife)

Monroe county

My 37-year prayer experiment has resulted in increasing my compassion towards other people. This has happened slowly, over time, as I have marinated in the teriyaki sauce of God's presence, listening for his voice and communicating in the voice he has given me. I also know that the compassion of Jesus does not yet fully occupy my heart.

If you devote much time to prayer this transformation will slowly happen. God will morph your unfeeling heart to a heart that feels for others in their weakness. You will recognize that you do not yet love as Jesus loves. You can expect God to get his hands on your heart and shape it into a heart of compassion.

If you spend much time in prayer, over a period of years, you will find yourself praying (dialoguing with God about what you and he are doing together) wherever you go, and at all times. "Unceasing prayer" naturally flows from a disciplined habit of prayer.

I like how James Houston expresses these twin ideas of unceasing prayer and compassion towards others. He writes:

"Prayer helps us to recognize that we are imprinted with the image or likeness of God. We have the God-given ability to relate to and communicate with others and with God in prayer. Recognizing this can renew all relationships. It is this that enables me to get into the habit of silently praying every time I meet someone in the street, in the office or if I am calling on them. I can say to myself before God:

'Lord, help me to see this person as unique in your sight, as someone for whom you died, and who you love so much that you want to spend eternity with them in friendship. I have no resources to make our encounter meaningful without your Spirit. But in your presence, help me to be kind, giving territory to the uniqueness of the other person, awed by the mystery of being human together!'"

- Houston, The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God, 60-61