Br. David Vryhof, SSJE spoke about prayer in his Saturday sermon. People coming for spiritual direction at the monastery often express regrets about their prayer life, “I’d like to pray more often but I just can’t find the time,” or “I just don’t know that my prayers are effective; they seem to be empty words.”
He realized that the person was perceiving God with a wagging finger, chastising them for not praying often enough or not effectively. Instead, Br. David says that we should see that wagging finger not as one pointing to us in blame, but instead turned around so that God is clearly beckoning us to Him.
Br. David remarked that in the past, he would provide helpful guidance on overcoming prayer deficiencies, by recommending lectio divina or other prayer habits that would prioritize our prayer time over other life aspects.
Now, however, Br. David shared that his response has changed. Br. David sees our prayer life less as a structured time of obligation with God and more about the relationship we have with a good friend, where we can’t wait to share our joys or seek comfort in our sorrows with someone who knows us and loves us. Prayer is the dialogue in a relationship that enfolds as we both marvel in the new things that we learn about each other as time goes on.
Br. David told of a friend in college who sat in the common area of the dormitory. As students would enter the building, he’d call out their name and pat the seat beside him, “Come, sit with me for a while and tell me what is going on in your life.”
It is this type of a relationship that we should have with God but also with each other. Just as Jesus would stop to listen to strangers, we should be the welcoming beacon that extends that same invitation to all, “Come, sit with me for a while; tell me what is going on in your life.”
Blessings, my friend,