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In Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov Father Zossima offers this counsel on prayer:
"Young man, be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education."
Here are some takeaways for me:
- To pray is to learn prayer. We learn more about prayer by actually praying than by reading about prayer.
- To pray is to learn about God. An intimate education in the being of God is gained in a life of praying. We learn more about God by praying than by reading about God.
- To pray is to grow in discernment regarding the ways of God. Praying teaches us the distinction between deciding and discerning.
- To pray, to engage in much actual praying, is to learn to hear the shepherding voice of God. In a life of prayer we learn about discipleship.
- To pray is to gain and feel the heart of God. To pray is to grieve with God, and to rejoice with God. To pray is to be educated in sorrow and joy.
- To pray is to learn trust in God. To truly pray is to trust; one cannot authentically pray without trust-jumping into the arms of God.
- To pray is to gain an education in obedience. Where there is disobedience the prayer life screeches to a grinding halt. In the obedience that emerges from the act of praying trust grows, hence prayer grows and flourishes.
- To pray is to acquire a PhD in patience.
Today, be not forgetful of prayer.