Monday, January 18, 2010

Where love and pain are found together (prayer)

How important is prayer? In 'The Only Necessary Thing' Henri Nouwen says on p. 120:
Prayer... is far from sweet and easy. Being the expression of our greatest love, it does not keep pain away from us. Instead, it makes us suffer more since our love for God is a love for a suffering God and our entering into God's intimacy is an entering into the intimacy where all human suffering is embraced in divine compassion. To the degree that our prayer has become the prayer of our heart we will love more and suffer more, we will see more light and more darkness, more grace and more sin, more of God and more of humanity. To the degree that we have descended into our heart and reached out to God from there, solitude can speak to solitude, deep to deep, and heart to heart. It is where love and pain are found together.

Wow. Absolutely right on, I think. He continues with this quote at the bottom of the page:
When we have seen God in glory we will also see God in... misery, and when we have felt the ugliness of God's humiliation we also will experience the beauty of the transfiguration.

That made me think of the tragedy in Haiti right now. Many people question "where is God?" when things like this happen. He is right there in the midst of the suffering is where he is.

Related, he says on the next page...
When we say to people, "I will pray for you," we make a very important commitment. The sad thing is that this remark often remains nothing but a well-meant expression of concern. But when we learn to descend with our mind into our heart, then all those who have become part of our lives are led into the healing presence of God and are touched by God in the center of our being. We are speaking here about a mystery for which words are inadequate. It is the mystery that the heart, which is the center of our being, is transformed... into God's own heart, a heart large enough to embrace the entire universe. Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, loneliness, and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God's heart has become one with ours.

A good response to the thought of "well, all we can do is pray"... or to people who don't think praying is really "doing anything." Amazing stuff.

Peace out; and in, my friends

1 comment:

Jim said...

"When we say to people, 'I will pray for you,' we make a very important commitment. The sad thing is that this remark often remains nothing but a well-meant expression of concern."

That's something I made a commitment to change last year. Now, when I say "I'll pray for you," I always make sure I do it - sometimes by doing it right then, right away, so I don't forget.

Now I am working on having a more formal prayer list of people I pray for every day. I've always had an informal one, but I forget too many people when I just rely on my own hazy memory.