I have been thinking about my introverted habit of “alone time” as a personal trait. The current road on my spiritual journey seems to encourage it, and the comfortable way of tuning in to God could be a better way to provide space for a holy relationship to grow. Or perhaps not. Because I ponder things over – and over, any revelations might seem to be quite sound – rational even. I might eventually determine that problems are solved and questions have been answered. Meditation and contemplative thought could produce something addictive and, well, quite isolating.
It is here, at the threshold of isolation that God starts stirring things up. I am reading Rowan Williams’ book, “Being Christian”. The first three chapters explain the Christian essentials of baptism, bible and eucharist offered in beautifully simple yet compelling explorations of primary faith activities. The fourth chapter offers insights to prayer.
Prayer is communion.
There is a need to grow in prayer. “Growing in prayer,” says Williams, “is growing in Christian humanity.” As people begin to realize that it is because of Jesus Christ they can talk to God in a different way. This new way of talking to God then, is “work of the Spirit of Jesus.” If that is true, then surely “there are things we ought to be saying and believing about Jesus.” You can put yourself in the place of Jesus, letting Jesus pray in you. As Jesus says in John 17:21, “Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us.”
Prayer is community.
Williams’ study of Origen’s writings produce this thought on the question, ‘If God knows what we are going to ask, why bother to pray?’ Williams says, “God knows, of course what we are going to say and do, but God has decided that he will work out his purposes through what we decide to say and do. So, if it is God’s will to bring something about, some act of healing or reconciliation, some change for the better in the world, he has chosen that your prayer is going to be part of a set of causes that makes it happen.”
Prayer is commitment.
Prayer is God’s work in us. Williams tells us, “We are opening our minds and hearts and saying to the Father, ‘Here is your Son, praying in me through the Holy Spirit. Please listen to him because I want him to be working, acting and loving in me.” The more often we are present to God, the deeper his work in our lives and the lives of those around us. We are reconciled and are reconciling. Who we allow ourselves to become affects the world.
I’m thankful that introverted does not mean isolated. I am glad that God uses the regularity of separate space and time to bring together. And most of all, I’m grateful that God uses Jesus to teach us to pray.