true prayer

December 22, 2005 | 4 Comments

Everything BelongsSome thoughts on “true prayer” — and questions — to mull over from Everything Belongs:

We seldom go freely into the belly of the beast. Unless we face a major disaster like the death of a friend or spouse or loss of a marriage or job, we usually will not go there. As a culture, we have to be taught the language of descent. That is the great language of religion. It teachs us to enter willingly, trustingly into the dark periods of life. These dark periods are good teachers. Religious energy is in the dark questions, seldom in the answers. Answers are the way out, but that is not what we are here for. But when we look at the questions, we look for the opening to transformation. Fixing something doesn’t usually transform us. We try to change events in order to avoid changing ourselves. We must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. That is the path, the perilous dark path of true prayer.

  • What does the language of descent look, or sound, like?
  • What are the dark periods of life that I am on the edge of even right now, and yet choose to avoid?
  • How, as a pastor, can I guide people into and through dark periods that allow them to experience genuine transformation?
  • What are the dark questions that I try to push aside so that I don’t have to grapple with them in fear that I won’t like the answers…or won’t find answers at all?
  • What circumstances around me am I trying to change rather than looking inside myself at what needs to be changed?
  • Not sure I agree with this… Is there a problem with finding things that make you happy? A friend once told me that she that I have a ‘if it feels good do it’ philosophy to life. It’s true… Go fix yourself. It’s ok to find an answer. Because you know what? The ‘long hard journey’ isn’t the problem. ‘Pain without answers’ isn’t the problen. The problem is that it’s disruptive. It makes life hard for those around you. And having those people near to you is more important than your ‘perilous dark path’.

  • It’s not that the long hard journey is the point itself. It is what the long hard journey leads to. We often take the route of least resistance, and he is saying we shouldn’t avoid the difficult times.

    I can eat all the twinkies I want right now, and they might make me happy, but I will regret stuffing myself with them sooner or later…likely sooner since it’s twinkies.

    If I want to walk my daughters down the aisle someday (which would make me a lot happier than a carton of twinkies), then I had best consider how my current eating and exercise habits are moving me toward that end.

  • a space for her

    I agree; the path that you take influences you as a human being. There’s no doubt about that. But sometimes it’s ok to take the easier route, I think. It’s when you fall into the pattern of constantly doing so that it becomes unhealthy. I’ve always been accused of finding the easiest route, and doing the exact opposite, ie. taking the harder, longer route. I’ve always been that way. I will likely always BE that way. I’m a stronger person for it. So I can identify with the meaning and the importance of these; how they affect my growth as a person, the development of my character, all the factors. Social Living–treeplanting was hard for me. But I know that for all the times I cried and all the times that I disappointed Alex, I was growing as a person. Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Some days I wanted to cry and say, “I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough”. But I didn’t. And if I hadn’t kept going, I know I would have been dissatisfied with myself as a human being. Either sometimes you take the not-so-nice route, or you always take the easiest path. There’s nothing wrong with things that make you feel good. It’s just sometimes always taking the easy path makes it harder for a human being later on.