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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spirituality: Richard Rohr, "The Naked Now"

The traditional and most universal word to describe a different access to truth was simply to 'to pray about something". But that lovely work "prayer" has been so deadened by pious use and misuse that we now have to describe this different mental attitude with new words. I am going to introduce a different word here, so you can perceive prayer in a fresh way, and perhaps appreciate what we mean by contemplation. The word is "resonance." Prayer is actually setting out a tuning fork. All you can really do in the spiritual life is to get tuned to receive the always present message. Once you are tuned, you will receive, and it as nothing do to with worthiness or the group you belong to but only the inner resonance and a capacity for mutuality. The Sender is absolutely and always present and broadcasting; the only change is with the receiver station.

Prayer is indeed the way to make contact with God/Ultimate reality, but it is not an attempt to change God's mind about us or about events. Such attempts are what the secularists make fun of  -- and rightly so. It is primarily about changing your mind so that things like infinity, mystery and forgiveness can resound with us. The small mind cannot see Great Things because the two are on two different frequencies or channels, as it were. the Big Mind can know big things, but we must change channels. Like will know like.

With prayer, the best you can do is know by comparison, calculation, and from the limited viewpoint of "you.". Prayer, as very traditionally understood, knows reality in a totally different way. Instead of presenting a guarded self to the moment, true prayer stops defending or promoting its ideas and feelings, lets go of an antagonistic attitudes or fears, and waits for, expects, and receives guidance from Another. It offers itself "nakedly" to the now, that your inner and aroused lover can meet the Lover. Now you surely see why you have to allow some major surgery in your own heart, mind and yes to even pray at all.   Prayer is about changing you, not about changing God.

Most simply put, as we've seen, prayer is something that happens to you, much more than anything you privately do.  It is an allowing of the Big Self more than an assertion of the small self. Eventually you will find yourself preferring to say, 'Prayer happened, and I was there" more than "I prayed today". All you know is that you are being led, being guided, being loved, being used, being prayed through -- and you are no longer in the drivers seat.  God stops being an object of attention like any other object in the world, and becomes at some level your own "I am". You start knowing through, with and in Somebody Else. Your little "I Am" becomes "We are". Please trust me on this. It might be the most important thing I am saying in this book.


  1. This reflection reminds me of Paul's encouragement to "pray without ceasing" and also Pedro Arrupe's prayer "More than ever I find myself in the hands of God" which has had a great influence on my thinking. We are certainly not in the "driver's seat" and realizing that is a great step in our spiritual lives. Thanks for posting this.

    1. We certainly have a lot less control that we think we do. It is so much easier to say yes.