Praying Simply – Reflection for 19 August 2018
Wisdom calls, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” Proverbs 9:4-6
It may come as a great shock to those of you who know me, but there have been times in my life when I have known so much that I couldn’t learn anything. I simply knew that I was right and nothing would budge me from that stance. While perhaps I was indeed “right,” my arrogance left no room for Wisdom or discernment.
If I am truly honest, my prayer life often reflects this same arrogance. I often spend more time telling God how He should fix whatever I am praying about than listening for His Will and resting in His Peace. Yet, Wisdom calls not to those wise in their own minds but instead to the simple. How are we then to set aside our arrogance and be simple?
The first task is to cultivate indifference. This is not to be confused with disinterest or a lackadaisical attitude to prayer. Indifference is the acknowledgement that God’s Will is greater than mine and that as I lay a matter before Him in prayer, I am seeking His Will indifferent to whether I like it or not. James describes this as seeking wisdom without having a double mind (James 1:5-8). This is the attitude behind praying as Jesus taught for the Father’s Will and Kingdom. Jesus also showed us how difficult this posture of prayer can be as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal (Luke 22:39-46). Holy indifference brings us to the simpleness that allows us to answer Wisdom’s call.
Once we have answered Wisdom’s call, we must then eat and drink. This is the prayer of listening. Listening prayer is one of the most difficult ways of praying for me. Even after cultivating indifference, I still require a quiet place and the time to be quiet, usually about twenty minutes before I can truly listen. Often in this quiet, the unfinished tasks of the day, the worries or concerns I carry around, or any of the many fears that plague me threaten to distract me. When this happens, I find that naming these distractions and visualizing them as stones that I place before the Cross helps me to listen once again for God. Being still enough to know that God is God (Psalm 46:10) and surrendering all my worries and concerns before Him is indeed a difficult task but it is also the way of life and insight.