A friend posted this as her status on Facebook today.
“Spirituality without a prayer life is no spirituality at all, and it will not last beyond the first defeats. Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new. Prayer unmasks. Prayer converts. Prayer impels. Prayer sustains us on the way. Pray for the grace it will take to continue what you would like to quit.” ~ Joan D. Chittister
It started me thinking about our need to become vulnerable before God. When Chittiser writes:.Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new, she hit the nail on the head. There is no point in praying unless we open ourselves up to God, make ourselves vulnerable, expose our weakness, uncover our sins and then…open our hearts to be changed.
That is the essence of prayer.
It makes me realize that we are often guilty of making prayer about us, our needs, and the things that we want God to do for us and our part of the world. And while asking for our needs and the cares and concerns of the world are a part of what we need to pray for, it should not be the only prayer life we have.
When all we pray for/about is our needs then there is nothing in our lives that will sustain us for the long haul. When our prayer is limited there will be no growth in spiritual strength that support us through the defeats that life throws at us.
Rather real prayer, true prayer that opens our hearts and thoughts before God for examination and renovation will provide us with the opportunities for growth. The goal of our spiritual life is to grow more and more Christ-like. This can only be done when we give ourselves over to God and allow God to shape us and mold us and make us.
This happens through the process of sanctification which is how we are made holy only through the grace and justification of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. Daily we pray, shedding our old nature and asking God to show us the way to become the person we were created to be.
Which brings me back to the beginning of my thought process. In order for that to happen we have to make ourselves vulnerable. But first of all we need to face the fact that we are people who like to fool ourselves. We pretend to be better than we are. We ignore or downplay the parts of our nature we don’t like. When God speaks to us, convicting us of sin, we cover our ears like a 3 year old, thinking that if we don’t hear it, it won’t be true.
And even if we do open ourselves to expose our sin before God there is another layer of vulnerability as we allow God to work in us to change us. Change is very uncomfortable. We like things the way they are. If things change within us, then everything else changes too…. like the way we respond to other people and the responsibilities we will be compelled to take on.
I know that I can guard my privacy tightly. I don’t want people to know the things that swirl deep within me, and I certainly am ashamed to admit them to God. But I have discovered in the process of the reflecting done on these pages here, that my life is so much richer when I open it to God and to others.
There are days when I am surprised at the depth of honesty in what I have written here, and I realize that this blog for me has been a way of entering the vulnerability of prayer, and opening myself up to the cleansing and renewal of God. I am sure that I still have a long way to go, and I invite you to come on that journey with me, as we open our hearts before God and see where it will lead. Let us submit to God as the clay does to the potter and see what God will make of us.
Life with God is always an adventure.