General Spirituality

Old Man, How Do You Pray?

The boy knelt at his father’s knees, ‘Dear man, how do you pray?’ The old man sighed a gentle sigh, smiling in his eyes. All questions came to this. Here the great meeting place of life, and of its nature the elder spoke:

‘Beloved, prayer is life,

and apart from it is only darkness.

It is the breath of the soul which yearns for God,

joining with His breath,

becoming one.

Prayer is the only light by which men can see,

the only vision they are called to adore,

for it is union with God

and in this union—everything.

‘Prayer is the quiet of a storm-tossed will,

an intellect guarded from the seas,

a mind centered upon God Most High.

It is stillness wrought in the midst of motion,

in which all that moves is God,

and with Him, all the world.

Prayer knows no words, if it is true,

for words belittle the presence of the Divine,

confound the conversation of Him who is all in all.

True prayer is beyond words,

transcending speech and thought,

communing with One who is greater than these,

Who works beyond them,

and in Whose presence they are no longer required.

Prayer is the stillness of the tongue,

of the mind, of the heart,

that God and these may come together

apart from words—one.

‘To pray, beloved, is to gather with Christ

at the shores of eternity;

To realize that these shores are within,

manifested in each human heart—

the infinite contained in the finite.

The One who came as Man and dwelt in a womb,

now dwells in the very heart of man.

Prayer is His energy, His activity,

vibrant in the human soul,

alive through His very Spirit,

stirring life to new heights

in the soul that has become quiet,

still enough to feel His breath.

‘We pray in our weakness, beloved,

for it makes us strong;

We pray in our strength,

for it makes us humble;

We pray in height and depth,

for prayer is our center—

It is the heart and nature of being,

the very root of spiritual life.

We pray when we know not how to pray,

for then it is not we,

but Christ who prays in us;

and the groanings of His Spirit

show the way.

‘To pray, dear child, simply sit.

Ask for the blessing of Him

with Whom you wish to commune.

Call Him near to you,

for without Him you have already lost.

Then close your eyes, child,

and banish every thought—

the good as well as the bad.

Whisper out only for His mercy,

and you shall receive it.

Let your heart be still,

Let your thoughts descend within,

for in the heart is Christ,

and only His wings will give you flight.

Then rest there, beloved,

in that place of still silence:

It is time for the Lord to act.

‘Prayer shall move you,

if only you will let it.

It will bear you to new heights,

transform your life and being;

But it will cost you your life,

your mind, your heart—

everything.

It will take of your time and energy,

it will consume your life;

But there is no reward greater than prayer.

So work, child.

Open your heart—and pray.’

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