Day Seven in “The Journey of the Wise Men: Twelve Days and Twelve Ways to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice”
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 star 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. 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 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).
Of course, you must use words, and words have a beauty of their own. The trick is not to be tricked by them. You must not misuse them or attach too much to them, to over-identify with the words themselves.
So when you speak to God or about God, take up a Psalm or little twig of Scripture and lay it on the fire of your growing love for God. “But take care,” says God, “and don’t misuse the Book; its 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.
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