This morning I read some of Henri Nouwen's reflections on prayer and praying out of The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life. The person who actually prays, and lives a prayer-filled life, finds worlds opening up within and before them. Here are some Nouwen prayer-bites to illustrate this.
- "A spiritual life without prayer is like the Gospel without Christ." (32)
- "To pray means to think and live in the presence of God." (32)
- "True prayer embraces the whole world, not just the small part where we live." (35)
- "The practice of contemplative prayer is the discipline by which we begin to see God in our heart... God speaks to God, Spirit speaks to Spirit, heart speaks to heart. Contemplation, therefore, is a participation in this divine self-recognition." (35) [This is the language of Trinitarian theism, and John 14-15-16. Jesus invites us to enter into the Big Dance of Father-Son-Spirit. We fellowship and are empowered within the perichoretic union.]
- "Prayer is the bridge between my unconscious and conscious life. Prayer connects my mind with my heart, my will with my passions, my brain with my belly. Prayer is the way to let the life-giving Spirit of God penetrate all the corners of my being. Prayer is the divine instrument of my wholeness, unity, and inner peace." (35-36)
- "To pray is to unite ourselves with Jesus and lift up the whole world through him to God in a cry for forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and mercy. To pray, therefore, is to connect whatever human struggle of pain we encounter - whether starvation, torture, displacement of peoples, or any form of physical and mental anguish - with the gentle and humble heart of Jesus." (36)
- "Prayer is leading every sorrow to the source of all healing; it is letting the warmth of Jesus' love melt the cold anger of resentment; it is opening a space where joy replaces sadness, mercy supplants bitterness, love displaces fear, gentleness and care overcome hatred and indifference." (36)