Prayer Is Life

Prayer is not a discourse. It is a form of life, the life with God. That is why it is not confined to the moment of verbal statement. The latter (verbalization) can only be the secondary expression of the relationship with God, an overflow from the encounter between the living God and the living person.

Jacques Ellul

We have thoughts, worries, concerns for others. Our minds are always busy with something. Even in deepest meditation, stilling our mind is impossible for long. Many think of prayer as a verbal outpouring of all these stirrings to God.

Ellul (a theologian/philosopher/sociologist whose work The Meaning of the City influenced me some 50 years ago) called that a discourse–speaking more than a sentence. But, he says, prayer is a form of life. I turn to examples such as Brother Lawrence, for whom life was prayer and prayer was life. He was a lay Carmelite brother whose teaching is found in The Practice of the Presence of God. That book, by the way, is not difficult to read. What is difficult is to order your life the way Brother Lawrence teaches. Or according to the idea expressed by Ellul.

It is too easy to pause a moment and rattle off a stream of consciousness discourse with God, relieving our minds and asking for miracles.

Return to the New Testament. Read through with an eye toward all the descriptions of people–both Jesus-followers and non-followers. Don’t look for rules and lists. Read as mini biographies. See what kind of life is described.

Go and do likewise. Live your prayer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: