Prayer Begins with Hearing

confessionWe pray then because there is pain and love in life, because we both suffer and rejoice, because we try to find meaning in it, because we want to share this with another. No doubt a good deal of our praying is shallow and insincere, selfish and immature. What we are as persons speaks for itself in our prayers. It may be the best or the worst that speaks, but what we most deeply need to do is to learn to pray quite honestly as we are, to love and rejoice from the depths of our being. How deep are those depths? Psychoanalysis, had it done nothing else, would have done a work of immense importance here. The most shallow, trivial-minded, apparently characterless person among us carries within himself, it appears, such worlds of passion, hopes and fears, ancestral dreams and twisted purposes, that like the once solid atom, our selves now show themselves to be strange galaxies of particles and energies at work. But that we had bad dreams, we might, like Hamlet, be content with this, or even as Caliban waking might cry to dream again. We have hopes and longings and hungers that aspire to a life transformed. From out the unplumbed depths of this being there is heard at times a voice which is ours yet not ours only. Praying begins with hearing. All prayer attempts to enter those depths below the troubled chaotic self to listen and to respond to a conversation which reveals and summons and helps us to participate in an I-in-You, You-in-Me relation with the Spirit who gives it life.

— From Yes to God by Alan Ecclestone (1904-1992)

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