"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Asleep sometimes

I have been reading a fascinating book on prayer.

Sometimes fascinating, I should say. It has been one of those books that I love about half the time and "hate" another half the time. At times the book is exceedingly boring and difficult to follow. Then it surprises me and whamo! a profound nugget of truth jumps off the page. There have been paragraph-long pieces I have written down because I have felt the weight of their truth. And, then, back into confusion and boredom I go... and so the reading has been with this book.

From this sleepy book, one particular theme has been bouncing around in my heart. I believe it has had a very practical affect on my life already.

The author talks about those moments in life where we are surprised or truly grateful--- those moments, you know, when you say "Wow!" at the sunset or at the rainbow.

You know those moments when our hearts are full and in awe at the newborn babe or the sweet smile from your child. He says those moments are actually more true and genuine prayer (or prayerfulness, he terms it some places) than most of our prayer-moments or daily devotional "prayer" times. I can't disagree.

I can find prayer times to be dull and distracted. I can find my mind wandering and certainly I am not often sitting in a state of "Wow!".

On the other hand, it is those unique "surprise" moments when I a feel most alive, most truly grateful and this, He calls true prayer.

The author suggests that in these moments we are truly awake, truly alive and truly grateful. In these moments we are not taking for granted the gifts that are all around us and in fact, the realization that everything good is a gift. It is in these moments we are truly grateful and are, therefore, praying.

The gratefulness that arises in those moments of surprise---the beauty of a noticed full-moon on a clear night---fill our hearts with gratefulness, which is indeed prayer. And from this state of prayerfulness comes or flows our "prayers" (i.e. our words). He states that the meal itself--- the actual eating and enjoying the tastes, flavor and food--- is more genuine prayer than the "prayers of blessing" we often say before hand. Maybe our prayers should come at the end of the meal!?

An important question comes with this very every-human-experience of surprise or awe. The question, of course, is to whom, or to what are we praying?

When the roaring beach waters catch our attention, or the news of a recovered loved one is heard, or the excessive, lavish gift from friend is given--- those moments of Wow! or gratefulness are what we all know. Where do we look when we have these moments and how often, how frequently, are we awake like this? If we begin to awake to the reality that all things are a gift. In truth, all good things are lavished gifts and opportunity for awe, then we too might live in a state of prayerfulness. We too may live awake.

As I looked around the room of our village church this morning, I was struck by this concept.

We have freedom to worship here--- a gift. We have people of all age--- a gift. We have music, a guitar, drums, a warm place to worship--- all gifts. And I had a moment of awe. I experienced a moment of awareness. I felt gratefulness that was, most certainly, prayer. I was awake and conscious of God. I was, in that moment, aware and more thoroughly "alive" than I had been on my walk to church that morning.

My other readings this week have been along the same line:
"God is not real to most of us because of the condition of our consciousness. If we are not aware of him, it is not because he is not with us. It is, in part, because our consciousness is so under the sway of other interests that it cannot turn to him with loving attention which might soon discern him. Did you ever encounter, on the street, a friend whose physical eyes looked at you without seeing you? You walked right up to him before the alien look on his face changed into one of recognition. Though actually in your presence, he was nevertheless as unconscious of you as if you did not exist. That is a persistent failure of the unemancipated consciousness. It can be so preoccupied with lesser realities that it does not sense the presence of the divine Reality surrounding and sustaining it. What makes life splendid is the constant awareness of God. What transforms the spirit into his likeness is intimate fellowship with him. We are saved-- from our pettiness and earthiness and selfishness and sin---by conscious communion with his greatness and love and holiness" ~Albert Edward Day
O Father awaken my heart to Your constant Presence. May I be aware of You and of Your gifts to me and may I live in gratefulness, prayerfulness and worship. Turn my attention to You throughout my day and wake me up when I fall asleep on my feet. Free my consciousness. Free my mind to be aware of You and may I, in all things, whether I am eating or drinking or praying... may I, in all things, give you honor and glory!
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