The Purpose and Goal of Prayer
The goal and purpose of prayer is union with God. The great saints and mystics of every age spoke of the ecstasy they experience when they were in this state of connection with God. They described it as being like no other joy this life has to offer.
But most people never experience the mystical ecstasy of prayer. Why do you think that is? Do you think those mystics and saints were God’s favorites? I don’t. Do you believe that they had those experiences because they were better people? It has always been taught that those experiences were freely given by God and not the result of some merit that some people earn and others don’t. Do you believe that you could experience the ecstasy of prayer? I do. I believe you can, and I believe God wants you to experience the ecstasy of prayer.
You are a human being… delicate composition and body and soul, carefully linked by the will and the intellect. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” And we believe that the Holy Spirit resides within us.
Your soul is very still. Your conscious mind is always and constantly being distracted. The first thing we need to do when we come to prayer is to allow the conscious mind to settle, to become still, to rest.
Now imagine that this hand represents the soul. The soul is always very still, like the deepest parts of the ocean, it is astoundingly still even in the midst of our frantic and frenetic lives.
Next, imagine this other hand represents the conscious mind. Always being distracted.
The first challenge when we come to prayer is to still the mind. To slow down, calm down, be still and quiet. This is what makes union with God possible and the ecstasy of prayer possible.
Most people don’t have a chance, because we pray how we live.
“Listen us God, your servant is speaking… I want this and this and this, and why did you let that happen, and if you do that again I’m never coming to church again. Have a good day God.”
When we pray like that, has our mind slowed down? Absolutely not. In fact there is a chance it has become even more distracted than at many times during our days.
This is why people stop praying. Because they have never really prayed. They have never experienced the joy and the peace and the ecstasy of prayer. They pray like they live – frenetically and frantically – and they pray that way for a year, two years, a decade or two, and then they stop praying and spend the rest of their lives believing that prayer doesn’t work, etc. But tragically, they have never experienced the gifts of prayer.
It’s time to start praying differently. Time to start living how we pray.
This allows us to become aware of God’s presence… he doesn’t show up when we are still. The passage doesn’t say, be still and God will show up. He is always and already present, but we are unaware of his presence, and unaware of most of the ways he makes himself present in our lives. The stillness and the quiet allows us to become aware of his powerful presence within us, in the world, in history, etc.
Let me repeat what I said in Part One of this series…
It is incredibly difficult just to be still. But I firmly believe that if we will sit still enough and quiet enough for long enough God will reveal himself to us in amazing ways. But I don’t want you to take my word for it, I want you to try it. Put it to the test.
Find a quiet place and a chair that is comfortable, but not a comfy chair that you are going to sink into. Sit still, perfectly still, and quiet, for as long as you can… and see what happens!
Watch the video!