Dear brothers and sisters
Good morning. How blessed we are to be His children and enjoy His communion! Holy Spirit is always there to interact with us, but we are not available to listen. Indeed, it takes time to build relationship whether it is with God and with one another. When we are busy, relationship is usually the first thing we sacrifice. Jesus came to restore relationship – between men and God. We are rescued from the bondage of Satan and reconnect with God again. And God has provided us the avenue to strengthen this God-Men relationship - prayer.
[Jesus said,] “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, seclude place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They are full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need” (Matthew 6:6-8).
Beginners at prayer—children, new converts—find it easy. The capacity and impulse to pray both are embedded deep within us. We are made, after all, by God, for God. Why wouldn’t we pray? It is our native tongue, our first language. We find ourselves in terrible trouble and cry out for help to God. We discover ourselves immensely blessed and cry out our thanks to God. “Help!” and “Thanks!” are our basic prayers. Monosyllables. Simple.
God speaks to us, calls to us, has mercy on us, loves us, descends among us, enters us. And we answer, respond, accept, receive, praise. In a word, we pray. It’s that simple. What more is there?
But prayer doesn’t stay simply a wilderness of testing and begin to question the childlike simplicities with which we started out. We find ourselves immersed in a cynical generation that corrodes our early innocence with scorn and doubt. Along the way we pick up notions of prayer magic and begin working on slight of hand rituals and verbal incantations that will make life easier. It isn’t long before those early simplicities are all tangled up in knots of questions, doubts, and superstitions.
It happens to all of us. Everyone who prays ends up in some difficulty or other. We need help. We need a theologian. For those of us who pray and who mean to continue to pray, a theologian is our indispensable and best friend.
The reason that we who pray need a theologian at our side is that most of the difficulties of prayer are of our own making, the making of well-meaning friends, or the lies of the devil who always seems to be looking after our best self-interests. We get more interested in ourselves than in God. We get absorbed in what is or is not happening in us. We get bewildered by the huge discrepancies between our feelings and our intentions; we get unsettled by moralistic accusations that call into question our worthiness to even engage in prayer; we get attracted by advertisements of secrets that will give us access to a privileged, spiritual elite.
But prayer has primarily to do with God, not us. It includes us. Certainly everything about us down to the last detail. But God is primary. And the theologian’s task is to train our thinking, our imagination, our understanding to begin with God, not ourselves. This is not always reassuring, for we want someone to pay attention to us. But it is more important to pay attention to God. Prayer, which began simply enough by paying attention to God, can only recover that simplicity by re-attending to God. Prayer is the most personal thing that any of us do, the most human act in which we can engage. We are more ourselves, our true, image-of-God selves. When we pray than at any other time. This is the glory of prayer, but it is also the trouble with prayer, for these selves of ours have a way of getting more interested in themselves than in God.
The more we pray, the more we are cleansed by the word of the Holy Spirit. God is at work. He always want to communicate His will to us, so that we know who He is and His plan for us. The more we pray, the more we know God better. And that’s why theology is a prayer language, provided that we understand prayer in according to what Christ defined – paying attention to God. When we are too busy to listen, we lost touch and we don’t know who God is to me…
With love in prayer,