Prayer teaches us what to aspire for. So often we do not know what to cling to. Prayer implants in us the ideals we ought to cherish. Salvation, purity of mind and tongue, or willingness to help may hover as ideas before our mind, but the idea becomes a concern, something to long for, a goal to be reached, when we pray: “Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile; and in the face of those who curse me, let my soul be silent.”—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 343
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Looking beyond the self
Prayer takes the mind out of the narrowness of self-interest and enables us to see the world in the mirror of the holy. For when we betake ourselves to the extreme opposite of the ego, we can behold a situation from the aspect of God. Prayer is a way to master what is inferior in us, to discern between the signal and the trivial, between the vital and the futile, by taking counsel with what we know about the will of God, by seeing our fate in proportion to God. Prayer clarifies our hopes and intentions. It helps us discover our true aspirations, the pangs we ignore, the longings we forget. It is an act of self—puriﬁcation, a quarantine for the soul. It gives us the opportunity to be honest, to say what we believe, and to stand for what we say. For the accord of assertion and conviction, of thought and conscience, is the basis of all prayer.