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Prayer—A Dialog With God Volume II—Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was developed by the early Church (Council of Nicaea) in the Year in order to.
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We begin with His promises to us, and ask accordingly. Because it separates us from God, sin must be confessed in order to remove any barrier to communion with God Psalm Giving thanks for mercies received is eye-opening for us, reminding us that our plight is seldom as bleak as it seems. Note: The Ethics and Religion Talk panel will revisit this question and share four additional responses in two weeks. This column answers questions of Ethics and Religion by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders in the Grand Rapids area.

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Pope: Real prayer is courageous, frank dialogue with God

Browse Nonprofits Place Matters. Create new account Request new password. Search this site:. Rabbi David J. Is God really able to hear my prayers and does he really care? What is Ethics and Religion Talk? We need your help.

Prayer: A Dialog with God Volume II

Related Articles. Ethics and Religion Talk: Help! This was an easy definition to memorize -- clear and brief.

It was a good definition in that it taught us that 1 God is far beyond our ordinary experience; 2 prayer entails effort on our part; and 3 prayer involves both the mind and the heart -- the understanding and the feelings and will -- of man. If we explore these three elements of the catechism definition a little further, perhaps we can come to a clearer picture of just what prayer should be.

The last point -- the place of the heart in prayer -- is an important one, and one that has not always been so clear. For many of the desert fathers and theologians of the early Church, perhaps largely under the influence of Greek philosophy, prayer was primarily a matter of the understanding, of knowledge. As such it was very much like theology, which sought to place reason at the service of faith -- to use reason to understand and clarify the divine revelation. The theologian and the pray-er differed not so much in what they did -- both were knowers -- as in the means they used to achieve knowledge.

The theologian employed his natural faculties of reason and reflection, while the pray-er, in this early tradition, employed esoteric or secret techniques which were supposed to lead to a privileged, supernatural, "mystical" way of knowing God and understanding ultimate reality. This view of prayer and spirituality was condemned by the Church as heretical very early in her history. Its major defect, however, was not its stress on the understanding to the relative neglect of the heart.

It was condemned because of its excessive reliance on man's own efforts.

In the partisan terminology of the times, it was found to be "Pelagian" or "semi-Pelagian," i. There is an infinite chasm between God and man; man, no matter how hard he tries, cannot come to God -- cannot leap across infinity. God must come to man. He alone can leap the infinite gulf between creator and creature; this is what he did in the Incarnation of Jesus and what he does in the life of every pray-er who truly encounters him. Although it is easy enough to label this idea semi-Pelagian, and thus to relegate it to the dustbin of history, I am afraid the real situation is not as simple as that.

As I look at my own years of learning to pray, it seems clear that there was a good bit of the semi-Pelagian in me, too. The structures within which I was formed as a religious tended to reinforce this stress on a "pulling-myself-up-by- my-bootstraps" kind of spirituality. The format of our novitiate times of prayer about which I will have some positive things to say later was rigidly prescribed. Point books provided structured meditations; some 60 of us novices meditated in one room; the one acceptable posture was kneeling.

If someone was not kneeling during prayer, he could expect a summons from the director of novices and an inquiry whether he was ill. I quaked through a few of these encounters myself; at the time, while I dreaded them, I came to see them as developing manliness and self-discipline. Later I came to resent the regimentation they implied.

Later still, when I myself began to direct souls, I realized that these practices were all part of a widespread spirit of an age: 3 asceticism, self-denial, killing one's own will and desires were, in a sense, at the very core of spirituality. It was as if Jesus' mysterious saying "Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm" Mt had been appropriated, alone and out of context, as the basis for a whole spirituality.

The fruit of the semi-Pelagian controversy has been to make us realize that our own effort is utterly secondary to the work of God in our encounter with him. Yet I have felt for some time that this is still a defect in the catechism definition of prayer with which we began this chapter. The idea of raising our minds and hearts to God still seems to imply that prayer is largely a matter of our own efforts -- that God is simply there, while we, in prayer, find ways and means to pull ourselves up to him. Such a view would obviously be semi-Pelagian, and hence unacceptable to the Christian.

Since Christians have recently shown much interest in Yoga and Zen and their derivatives, it is worth noting in this context that such a view i. In those Oriental traditions which do not know a personal God, prayer depends totally on the effort of the pray-er -- even if that effort is, paradoxically enough for the Westerner, wholly devoted to emptying the mind, to coming to quiet, to passivity. It is important to note, however, that even in the mainstream Oriental traditions -- and particularly in the classical literature of Hinduism -- there are affirmations of the personality of God and intimations of a doctrine of grace.

To them, constantly disciplined, Revering Me with love, I give that discipline of mind, Whereby they go unto Me. There has been some dispute within Hinduism about the literal meaning of texts like these. More than that, it is an encounter which depends almost entirely on his grace, since he is God. This is not the place to attempt to explain to the puzzled Christian what exactly lies at the end of the road of prayer for the Hindu or Buddhist contemplative.

My point is simply that Christian prayer is grounded in a very specific conception of God: a personal God who encounters his creatures in love. To return to the catechism definition, the idea of prayer as a raising of our minds and hearts to God seems to me to over stress our own effort and activity in prayer. For some time, I have been suggesting that a better approach would be to define prayer as an opening of the mind and heart to God. This seems better because the idea of opening stresses receptivity, responsiveness to another.


  1. And With Eyes Partly Closed, It Purred In Smug Complacency.
  2. Prayer Quotes.
  3. Get e-book Prayer: A Dialog with God Volume II.
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church - In the age of the Church.
  5. Six Songs, Op. 34, No. 1: An Old Love-Song (Minnelied).

To open to another is to act, but it is to act in such a way that the other remains the dominant partner. Perhaps the clearest example of openness is the art of listening, which we discussed at the beginning of this chapter. Listening is indeed a real art, which some people never learn. We all have experienced people who cannot or do not listen. They hear but do not understand; their bodily ears pick up sound, but their hearts are not attentive to its meaning.

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Catholic Daily Prayers: Make Them Your Habit For Holiness

You can talk to them, but you can scarcely talk with them. Yahweh uses this image of hearing and yet not hearing to express his frustration with Israel: "Hear this, 0 foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not" Jer ; and Jesus uses it to the same effect when speaking of his own "hearers" after the multiplication of the loaves: "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?

Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? Hearing or listening is a good metaphor for prayer. The good pray-er is above all a good listener. Prayer is dialogue; it is a personal encounter in love. When we communicate with someone we care about, we speak and we listen. But even our speaking is responsive: What we say depends upon what the other person has said to us. Otherwise we don't have real dialogue, but rather two monologues running along side by side.

I believe that our remarks have carried us a good way toward understanding what prayer is. In the past we have catalogued prayer under four headings: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication or petition -- easy to remember because the initial letters spell "acts. But we have seen that we need to go deeper than "acts" of our own to get to the real meaning of prayer. Prayer is essentially a dialogic encounter between God and man; and since God is Lord, he alone can initiate the encounter. This is the important implication of the first element of our catechism definition.

Hence what man does or says in prayer will depend on what God does or says first. Here, above all, it is true that "You have not chosen me; I have chosen you" Jn