Monday, November 22, 2021

It's more than the will…

But prayer goes beyond the scope of emotion; it is the approach of the human to the transcendent. Prayer makes man a relative to the sublime, initiating him into the mystery. The will, at times, is an outsider to the sanctuary of the soul. It ushers in great things, but does not always control them. The will to pray opens the gates, but what enters is not its product. The will is not a creative but an auxiliary power, the servant of the soul. Creative forces may be discharged, but not engendered, by the will. Thus, inclination to pray is not prayer. Deeper forces and qualities of the soul must be mobilized before prayer can be accomplished. To pray is to pull oneself together, to pour our perception, volition, memory, thought, hope, feeling, dreams, all that is moving in us, into one tone. Not the words we utter, the service of the lips, but the way in which it is performed, the devotion of the heart to what the words contain, the consciousness of speaking under His eyes, is the pith of prayer.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 347

<idle musing>
And that's why just saying "my thoughts and prayers are with you" falls short. That's the will to prayer, but not the actual substance. The actual substance is throwing the whole body, mind, and soul into it. And that can be hard at times. It's easier to go through the motions, but far less rewarding and satisfying, as tomorrow's excerpt will talk about.
</idle musing>

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