- April 26, 2012
- 2 Comments
Learning to Pray (Part 4) with Henri Nouwen
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Lk 11.1)
We’ve been discussing our need to learn to pray and Jesus’ desire to teach us how to pray like he did. In doing so we’ve covered praying the Lord’s Prayer as a training in trust rather then simply a rote liturgy of communicating to God. The assumption driving this series is that we really do need to learn how to pray: in humility, abandonment, and openness. Even if we’ve prayed for 30 years we have much to learn.
I came across this prayer by Henri Nouwen from his book A Cry for Mercy. Pray it with me as a consecration and dedication to learn how to pray from Jesus this day:
Listen, O Lord, to my prayers.
Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence.
But none of this is possible without you.
When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you.
Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts, can be little more than distractions when you are not their author.
O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an experession of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.
Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.
But, Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.