I prayed this morning. No, I didn’t quite pray; I unloaded. Some people have those deep prayers where they sit and listen for God. The late Mother Teresa, when asked what she said when she prayed, replied, “Nothing. I just listen.” When asked what God said, she replied, “Nothing. He just listens, too.”
Along with a group of friends this morning, we discussed what exactly drives us toward prayer. We were all spiritual men, who share the plight of distraction.
We learned incorrectly. We assumed that we needed to begin with perfection instead of traveling along the continuum of life as a journey. Communication takes place in progression. We age. We grow. We develop in thinking and faith, ultimately learning the desire to learn how to listen. And learning the desire to learn how to pray.
We struggle with the concept of listening. This stems from our inability to value silence, to seek out solitude. We fill every moment and space with sound. Coffee shops, bookstores and bars hum with music, as streets and cities buzz with urban life’s song: construction, transportation, communication.
I wait by the phone. I continually check my email. Will anybody call first? Write first? Or make first contact? When people tell me to just stop by their houses, do I? Or do I resist and refrain out of myriad excuses. They spoke without sincerity. Why should I inconvenience them?
What a toll modern technology takes on interaction. A new generation craves the next text message, and rarely writes a personal note on paper. And now we have video conferencing. Soon, we’ll have made face-to-face interaction fully obsolete.
Do you remember the fantasy-inducing childhood question? “If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?” Everyone would always say, “More wishes,” or “infinite wishes” until the questioners grew wise to this and axed that option.
Charles Spurgeon had four words for Jesus’ promises: Sue him for it. If Jesus makes a promise, we can act on it and say, “You promised this.”
You see it so often. Two people furiously clash over some words, meanings or intentions lost on the path of communication. It sounds like Capitol Hill during an election year. But it could be closer than you think: classmates discussing a project, fraternity brothers checking expense accounts, or any man and woman fighting over semantics. Both parties desperately want the other to hear them, to receive their words and meaning.
Moby once said that if given the choice as a child, he would’ve eaten Oreos for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, and Oreos mixed in ice cream for dinner. He would’ve been happy. Fortunately, his parents intervened.
“Practice moderation in moderation,” the yoga instructor repeated in a melodic chanting as she rhythmically struck the studio-sized mini gong. My mom and I attempted to stay balanced as we stifled laughter. This exercise in relaxation stretched more than just our muscles and tightly wound tendons. Admittedly we were yoga novices, far more accustomed to a brisk run or lengthy bike ride.