Prayer, Part 3


This is the last of three parts I will be posting on prayer. The other two parts are available in the archive. As with anything I post here, I would be very interested in your feedback and thoughts.

Quadrant 4:

The final quadrant is surely the most difficult for most of us: It is truly terra incognita.  What does it even mean to listen to God without the understanding? And yet there are disciplines that will take us here if we will let them.

One of the better known is centering prayer.  This is not a form of meditation because its goal is not to focus on some image or idea, but to empty the mind, to put it in an open and receptive state and just exist in the loving presence of the Father.  Those who practice this form of prayer will tell you that “nothing” happens and yet there is change; they do not learn, yet they know more; there is no motion and yet order emerges out of chaos.

All prayer in this quadrant springs from the knowledge that while God can, and often does, use our minds, our imaginations, our intellects to communicate with us and work in us, He has no need to but is quite able to work in us without any of them.  Indeed, since God is so very far beyond all knowledge, there are things He wants to show us and do in us that cannot come through our understanding.

And so we come to the “prayer of unity”, to true contemplation, to that place beyond language and senses where there is just God and, in Him, the real, hidden, new “me”.  We should put this at the extreme outer corner of this quadrant—or perhaps it even bursts out of the limits of our “space”.  This is the foretaste of heaven and if we must, inevitably, fall back into the other forms of prayer, to our more “normal” lives, for now, yet we know it exists; We long for it—in fact, we now recognize that it was this we were longing for all along in all the vague, unmet yearnings we tried to appease with mere “things”, things that always failed us.

So our final quadrant can be filled in thus:

Quadrant 4

Quadrant 4

Final thoughts

Of course, this exploration of prayer is far from complete. I am sure there are plenty of other forms of prayer I have yet to learn about and much more that should be said about those I have included. This short study is meant more to help us all expand our thinking on the subject.

Do you have experience of a type of prayer I have omitted? If so, please leave a comment and tell me about it. Or do you think there is something important that should be added to what I have said about one of the forms of prayer in my space? Again, please leave a comment.


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