Beginning To Pray

I want to give you some words from the best spiritual book of any kind I have ever read. I keep trying to say something beforehand as an introduction, so you will know how good it is, but the best way is probably to just give you some passages. It is called Beginning to Pray, by Anthony Bloom.

As long as we ourselves are real, as long as we are truly ourselves, God can be present and can do something with us. But the moment we try to be what we are not, there is nothing left to say or have; we become a fictitious personality, an unreal presence, and this unreal presence cannot be approached by God.

Unless we are aware that we are outside the kingdom of god, we may spend a great deal of our lives in imagining that we are inside, behaving as though we were, and never reaching that depth where the kingdom of God unfolds itself in all its beauty, its truth and its glory.

We must remember that all we possess is a gift…We have a body–it will die. We have a mind–yet it is enough for one minute vessel to burst in a brain for the greatest mind to be suddenly extinguished. We have a heart, sensitive and alive–and yet a moment comes when we would like to pour out all our sympathy, all our understanding for someone who is in need, and at that moment there is nothing but a stone in our breast.

St. John Chrysostom said ‘Find the door of your heart, you will discover it is the door of the kingdom of God.’ So it is inward that we must turn, and not outward –but inward in a very special way. I am not saying that we must become introspective. I don’t mean that we must go inward in the way one does in psychoanalysis or psychology. It is not a journey into my own inwardness, it is a journey through my own self, in order to emerge from the deepest level of self into the place where He is, the point at which God and I meet.

I must admit that the perusal of manuals of prayer very often leaves me very uneasy. I feel that if god was really present, concretely there in front of me, I would certainly not dare to make all these flat discourses to Him and tell Him things about Himselves that He has known long before I ever came into the world. So there is a need for choice, because if you are ashamed of your prayer, God may be uneasy about you and the prayer too, and you will never be able to bring it to God wholeheartedly.

Well, that’s all for now. The best thing is for you to just get the book. I have read it several times, but I think it would be better just to read it continually from end to end for the rest of my life. Happy Sunday!

6 Comments on “Beginning To Pray”

  1. Scott C says:

    Steve, nice post. I may have to get that book. You seem more upbeat, and that is good to see. I hope that you’re working through your present situation, which, in my opinion, there isn’t much advice that can be offered. These things simply must be lived out. But what I can offer, are my prayers and empathy. Thanks for writing so eloquently the pain that so many of us have dealt with and will continue to deal with. You’ve hit some raw nerves the last several days, but it’s nice to know that there are others out there trying to live a life faithful to Church teaching. Thanks again. Peace.

  2. Thanks, Scott. I very much appreciate the prayers and empathy, not to mention the understanding that somethings things are just raw & that’s that. Had a very lovely day today, though.

  3. Thanks for this. These are some very useful (true) points.

  4. I’m going to buy this book! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Debbie Sterbin Sercely says:

    Off-topic, with apologies…but have you read this post over at Bad Catholic?

    This kid blows me away.

    1. Thanks! Just checked it out. Marc does great work.

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