Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 29, 2018
Christ Shows Us Prayer
If I’ve ever wondered what prayer is, I can go to my bookshelf and take a look. I have more than fifteen books on prayer. (Give or take. I don’t have them all in one place—some are in my office at church.) That does not count all the books on spirituality, spiritual direction, and other kinds of practical theology. I geek out over those things.
However, I fall far short of giants in prayer. I call myself an advanced beginner at prayer. When I consider several of my friends and acquaintances, they are real people of prayer. I stand in awe of several people who have written books about prayer, like Father Nouwen.
His life exemplified prayer. He gives a brief declaration of what goes on when we pray: “When you pray, you open yourself to the influence of the Power which has revealed itself as Love. That Power gives you Freedom and Independence. Once touched by this power, you are no longer swayed back and forth by the countless opinions, ideas, and feelings which flow through you.” 
That is the way it’s supposed to work, anyway. I can only strive to pray this way. I am not free and independent of opinions, ideas and feelings, so help me, God. Fr. Nouwen raises it to the next level in the next paragraph: “Christ is the one who in the most revealing way made clear that prayer means sharing in the power of God. Through this power He turned His world around.”  Good grief. How can I possibly enter into prayer with such a high bar set for me? First Father Nouwen, that giant of prayer, and then the example of our Lord Jesus? Talk about feeling small and inadequate.
I’ve had this regular blog for several years now, and I do strive to follow God in prayer. Clear, unambiguous statements like the ones Fr. Nouwen made set me back on my heels.
They are counterbalanced by Fr. Nouwen’s follow-up statement: “Praying, therefore, means being constantly ready to let go of your certainty and to move beyond where you now are….This is why praying demands poverty, that is, the readiness to live a life in which you have nothing to lose so that you can always begin afresh.”  Oh, dear Lord, how I wish I could be so free, to have truly nothing to lose.
I hesitate to even begin to pray this way. Rather, I have begun, in the past. I have spent some time with God, resting in God’s presence, but exerting power? Not being swayed by opinions, ideas, and feelings? Dear Lord, I need help from You. I feel like such a beginner, especially when I read such words. Help me to pray, Lord.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 116.
 Ibid, 117.