Our Hearts True Home
“True, whole prayer is nothing but love.”
- St. Augustine
“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence.”
- Richard Foster, Prayer
The key to our true home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Many of us struggle with prayer and often feel homeless in our spiritual life; we wander and wrestle, we struggle and feel alone. I speculate that, for many of us, our restlessness is largely because we haven’t learned to be at home with God in prayer, to rest in God as Augustine so famously put it. We haven’t learned to sit and listen, so when our talking and asking in prayer falls flat, feels unheard, or seems to echo into an eternal void we give up and figure we will have to get things done on our own and quit wasting time with unproductive idleness. However, it's exactly "idle" and "unproductive" moments that open up space for us to rest and connect to our true home, who is our good and true and beautiful, always present God.
One of our values at Holy Trinity McKinney is being ROOTED. We want to be rooted in our neighborhood, in the deep and beautiful tradition of Anglicanism, in meaningful and lasting relationships with each other, but most of all we want to be rooted in our relationship with Jesus, the second member of the triune God.
On the wall of our worship space, we hang a modern version of Andrei Rublev classic Icon of the Trinity. Our attention and imaginations are drawn to it each and every time we enter our worship space—our pop-up sanctuary. I frequently call our attention to the fact that the three figures, representing the Trinity, are sitting around a table and at the front of the table, there seems to be an open seat. The image reminds us that we are being invited to participate in the life of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are invited to sit and dine with God, to participate in the love that flows between the father and the son.
In both the original icon and the modern version, there is a small colored square right in the spot where a fourth participant of this divine feast would be sitting. Many think that there was once a reflective material glued to the icon so that the one who was gazing upon the image, this window into divine reality—which is what an icon is, would see their reflection, as if they were in the image, sitting at the table. How beautiful and striking would it be to see yourself welcomed and present in the life of God, feasting with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Friends, this is prayer.
You are invited to sit and be with God!
First and foremost prayer is participating in life with God. Prayer is not about doing anything or accomplishing something for God. Prayer is not about becoming or being formed into someone, it is not about spiritual growth. Prayer is learning to be with God [period]. This simple *being with God* is often way harder than we think. As I shared in my previous post, the only real requirement of prayer is showing up and this is because prayer is about being not doing, resting with God rather than working for God. Will you be formed? Will you be empowered? Will you grow spiritually and hear from God in prayer? I am certain you will. However, the utility of prayer isn’t the point of pray. The timeline will never satisfy your desire for expediency. The quite - often silent moments or months or years of prayer will be frustrating and they will continue to be so until we learn to rest and simply be at home with God.
For me, this is a constant journey.
I‘ve read a lot of book about prayer, studied different methods of prayer, and have gone on many retreats to pray and learn to pray. I don’t do all this because I have this natural bent toward prayer and contemplation and find it so natural and peaceful to enter into times of prayer and silence. NOPE! The exact opposite is true. I study, learn, practice, and think about prayer because actually praying is one of the most challenging parts of my life with God.
So maybe you’re like me, prayer is hard and sometimes feels like the most unproductive part of the day. I would encourage you, based on experience, the harder prayer is, the more you need it, the more I need it! So lean in, pay attention to the difficulty. I've found the more challenging I find prayer, the more I'm in need of that time with my father in heaven.
The wonderful news is... “No longer do we have to stand outside, barred from nearness to God by our rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God’s grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.” “The key is prayer, the door is Jesus. How good of God to provide us a way into his heart.” From the book Prayer by Richard Foster.
This is the way of prayer! May we receive this good news and sit at this table to be with God, in loving union through prayer, learning to be at home with our creator and sustainer.
"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
From Confessions, by St. Augustine
Grace and Peace