Part of the Series The Twelve Days as Twelve Ways to Deepen Your Connection with God.

You will, of course, want to pray along the way--that is, you'll find yourself wanting to speak words to God and about God.  Prayer, you think, is about words, and yes, you're right.  It is about words, there's no escaping that.  But prayer is so much more than words.

In truth, you've been praying all along--from before you awakened to your deep desire or desperation to follow this start to the End.  Prayer is not merely asking God for things.  It's not just using nice words to massage the Divine.  It may include these things, but prayer is essentially your awareness of God, your presence to the Presence.  It's not merely the mind or mouth in motion.  Prayer is an awakened heart, an interior awareness of God.  This is why the Bible often shows how the mind and mouth are made dumb--stone silent--when God shows up (Habakkuk 2.20 and Mark 9.7 are just two of many examples).

The problem with words is that we tend to become hypnotized by them.  First, we form them and then they form us.  We think that once we've attached a label to something we know what it is.  But consonants and vowels can't fully explain a flower, let alone its Maker.  I think that's why God played coy with Moses and gave him a riddle for the Divine Name rather than a label.  "I'm not going to give you a label by which you can think you've got Me figured out," said God.  "Just call me 'I Am Who I Am," (Exodus 3.14).  God wasn't going to let Moses or anyone else think that because he could utter a few sacred words, he had God figured out, tamed, or employed in some great cause.  God's too big for that.

Of course, you must use words with God, and words have a beauty of their own.   But the trick is not to be tricked by them.  You must not misuse them or attach too much too them or over-identify with the words themselves.  If you do, you'll be liable to reduce prayer to mere words and miss the Word Itself.  

So, when you speak to God or about God, don't babble or drone on and on (Matthew 6.7).  Instead, take up a Psalm or little twig of Scripture and lay it on the fire of your growing love for God.  Let those simple words guide your words, and improvise on them if you wish.  "But take care," says God, "and don't get too attached to words; their only aim is to light the way to Me." 

Today, I'll not heap up empty phrases.  Instead, I'll light a small fire on the hearth of my heart.  A few sacred words are all I'll need for kindling.

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman
CategoriesBE, DO, PRAY

Part of the Series The Twelve Days as Twelve Ways to Deepen Your Connection with God.

You're walking now.  It's night.  Away from the city lights you're more able to perceive the haunting beauty of the landscape around you.  As you do, two things begin to happen to you.

First, with each step you take farther on and deeper in, you sense a growing anticipation rising within you.  In your heart, there's a growing conviction that you've finally set out on the one journey that truly matters; you're pursuing the Ultimate, the Absolute, the Source and Goal of all life.  All you were made for and destined to be lies at the end of this journey, bathed in the pure radiance of the star's bright light.

Second, you notice you've begun to enter a new and strange land you've never seen before, never even known existed.  The familiar landmarks are gone.  You've moved off the map.  You're lost to all except the light of the star.  Anticipation emboldens you, but the strangeness of this new land unnerves you.

If you've not know something of this eagerness and nervousness, you've not gone far enough on the spiritual journey; your praying's been too safe.  At some point, all who seek God must find themselves carried into some kind of desert experience, for the desert is the furnace of transformation.  In the desert, we're stripped of all we've carried but do not need.  In the desert, we're stripped down, relieved of burdens and attachments, until the only thing remaining is the nakedness of the heart's pure trust in God.  All we've valued, all we've used to justify ourselves, prove ourselves, make ourselves worthy and lovable and useful is irrelevant here.  All we thought we needed to survive, we don't need.  Only one thing is needed, and That can never be taken from us. 

This is the very reason why every spiritual "athlete" from Abraham to Mother Theresa was pressed by the Holy Spirit into the desert.  Welcome.  You've now joined them.

Today, I'll acknowledge that the desert frightens me and I don't easily surrender all I've accumulated up to this point.  But I know I must not avoid the desert and its healing, liberating power of I'm to find what I'm looking for.  

Posted
AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman
CategoriesBE, DO, PRAY

This contemplative meditation and its prayer comes from Psalm 46:10 of the Hebrew Scriptures: “Be still and know that I am God.” Use this prayer to try and draw yourself and others into a contemplative frame of mind. Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.

Do you need a few moments to re-center yourself, find what matters again, clear the gunk or push away the clutter? Take 3 minutes and find yourself again. This is the kind of thing we'll be doing at the 2014 Central California Prayer of the Heart Conference.