If the women and men of prayer across all the world faiths experience the same Ultimate Reality when they pray, then they all encounter what Christians call God. When a mixed group of Christians, for whom working together would seem like a miracle, instead share their experience of God they find themselves deeply united. How do I reflect on these truths?
In 2001 I wrote a Report for The Spiritual Counsel Trust on the state of spiritual direction in the UK. I wrote that. “In the course of my work, I listen to many people and try to help them discern the promptings of the Spirit of the risen Lord in their lives. Each person’s story is different, and yet I find that some themes occur frequently. When I talk with others engaged in this ministry I find that they are hearing the same themes. It seems to me to be incumbent upon me to say “I feel that the Spirit is saying these things to the churches and perhaps to society: spiritual direction leads into prophecy.” All of the themes I named then remain current. They were:
Last summer my friend Paul told me about The Snowmass Agreement, which I hadn’t heard of. I checked it out on-line and found that this is what it is:
“In 1984 Father Thomas Keating invited a small group of contemplatives from eight different religious traditions—Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Native American, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic—to gather at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, to engage in what he called “a big experiment.”
I have often talked about ‘repetition’, as Ignatius of Loyola calls it, in these writings, e.g. “Where to start?“, “The Kingdom of Heaven“, and “Repetition“. He invites us to revisit significant moments, “noting and dwelling upon the points where I have felt greater consolation or desolation or greater spiritual relish.”  When we do this, we become infused with the graces and insights given to us. This changes us. This is conversion, incrementally, daily.
This is my third offering of recorded prayer. It is a version from the post, “The only 3 prayers you need,” in which I suggested that presence, gratitude, and kindness comprise the three important prayers.
This morning, during my time of prayer, I was listening to my friend Paul reading chapters 18 and 19 of John’s Gospel. Listening to the story being read is a different experience from reading it, and thoughts occurred to me that were new to me. I heard that after Jesus’ death Joseph of Arimathea and a secret disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for permission to remove Jesus’ body and was obviously given permission to do so, for he with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who had visited Jesus by night earlier in John’s story, took Jesus’ body and laid it in a new tomb at considerable cost and no doubt some risk to themselves.
Here is my second offering of a recorded prayer. As I said in my last post, when I wake in the night, I wish there were some guided prayers I could listen to, to settle me, to connect me with God, to remind me that all is well and I am safe.
This is a prayer for when you lie down to sleep, when you wake in the night, or when you want to rest or have a nap in the day. This is designed to help you relax and find rest in God’s presence, such that you might drift off into sleep in a feeling of trust and letting go.
Sister Wendy Beckett was a Roman Catholic contemplative who knew a great deal about art. You may have seen her on tv talking about it, or you may have read one of her many books on the subject. She also wrote about prayer, and there is a quotation that I attribute to her that has stayed with me. “If God is love, and prayer is important, then it cant in principle be difficult.” Certainly she was convinced that “prayer is simple.”
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