Monday, February 08, 2010


The Heart Of The Matter

A while back, Justin Taylor quoted a Paul Miller book on prayer and quiet:
The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love . . . and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer. By spending time with our Father in prayer, we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us. Our lives become more coherent. They feel calmer, more ordered, even in the midst of confusion and pressure.
As I read that I was very much attracted to the idea of being selfish about our "quiet time." Regular readers will know that the idea hits on two themes I discuss here over and over - selflessness, and the idea of church/spiritual practice becoming expressions of selfishness. But when I reread the quote a few more times; another impression hit me.

I found myself wondering about the difference between meditation and prayer. This quote discusses prayer more as a time of meditation than a time of conversation. Consider the quote, "we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us." What if God is talking to us about something He is doing in someone else's life? What if He wants to tell us purely about Himself?

I talk constantly here about how God has to make a difference in our lives, but focusing too much on that is, like everything else done to excess, a form of idolatry. Even if I seek to allow God to make me better, constant monitoring, constant focus on what progress God has made in my life, is as self-involved as any other pursuit.

I think this. more than most things, speaks to the need for the beautiful and the sacred space in our lives. I know that personally, nothing can "pull me out of myself" more than scenery, or a painting, or a building that just, by virtue of its overwhelming beauty has "GOD MADE THIS" written all over it.

We are tyrants over ourselves, God is a benevolent and merciful King that can take us and make us what we were meant to be. All we need do is let Him.

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