I’m not a verbose person. I’m prone to projecting a quiet, withdrawn, even aloof disposition. This is not for lack of interest, engagement, or care but simply a poverty of words flowing from mind to mouth.
This truth draws a curious tension. I enjoy the craft of arranging words on a page. Poems, prose, devotionals or blogs, writing words is life-giving. Yet speaking those same words requires determination.
And then there’s prayer.
For some time now, my conversations with God have been mere mumblings. The words come slow and incomplete, competing with the ticker tape flow of my self-talk. I offer word-threaded tangles through terse, broken-phrased blurts toward Heaven. My focus easily diverts to other supposed urgencies.
My struggle is not unique. Still, I grieve my paltry praying efforts. I’m saddened by missed opportunity. Shocked by my autonomy. Confused by my difficulty.
How grateful I am for my wife. A pray-er par excellence and spiritual helpmate.
Yesterday, sitting parked in our driveway, she reached across the console, grabbed my hand with gentle firmness, and led us both in a fresh engagement with our Father. No shame. No remorse. Just invitation.
Along with that driveway moment, I’m pondering some words from Thomas Merton. I’m stirred by his thoughts on prayer and solitude. Not a solitude of escape, but transformation. Merton says, “When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively, no distraction. My whole life becomes a prayer. My whole silence is full of prayer. The world of silence in which I am immersed contributes to my prayer.” (Thoughts in Solitude, p.91)
I seek the release from distraction through the pleasure of silence. A quietness filled with just one conversation. A prayerful dialogue that ebbs and flows with the mundane and the extraordinary. A conversation enlivened by the Holy as I offer myself without the distraction of me.
A whole life of prayer. One word at a time.