Henri Nouwen (1936-1996), spiritual thinker and theologian, posits that prayer is “wasting time with God”.
“If we think about prayer in terms of its usefulness to us – what it will do for us, what spiritual benefits we will gain, what insights we will gain, what divine presence we may feel – God cannot easily speak to us. But if we detach ourselves from the idea of the usefulness of prayer and the results of prayer, we become free to ‘WASTE’ a precious hour with God in prayer. Gradually, we may find, our ‘useless’ time will transform us, and everything around us will be different,” Nouwen wrote.
Nouwen asserts that prayer is being unbusy with God by letting God take charge of the situation: “Prayer is being unbusy with God instead of being busy with other things. Prayer is primarily to do nothing useful or productive in the presence of God. To not be useful is to remind myself that if anything important or fruitful happens through prayer, it is God who achieves the result. So when I go into the day, I go with the conviction that God is the one who brings forth fruit in my work, and I do not have to act as though I am in control of things. I have to work hard; I have to do my task; I have to offer my best. But I let go of the illusion of control and be detached from the result. At the end of each day, I can prayerfully say that if something good has happened, God be praised.”
Now, regardless whether prayer is wasting time with God or not, our greater concern--it cannot be doubted--is how we can make our prayers effective in manifesting our wishes and desires.
Barbadian author Neville Goddard, in his classic book, “Feeling Is The Secret,” suggests that “to pray successfully, you must yield to the wish or feel (read: believe) the wish fulfilled.”
“Think feelingly only of the state you desire to realize. Feeling the reality of the state sought, and living and acting on the conviction is the way of all seeming miracles,” Goddard asserts.
On similar vein, Gregg Braden, in his recent book “The Wisdom Codes” (Hay House, 2020) points out that:
“In praying, it is not so much with the words but the feeling or significance that we give to the words that sets into action the alignment of circumstances that can meet prayer. The feeling is the prayer, the feeling is the affirmation. It embodies a state of unity or harmony, not distinction or separation, between God and the person praying.”
More profoundly, Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan friar and touted as a modern-day mystic, demonstrates that authentic prayer (as taught by Jesus) is “living in constant undivided, not dualistic, union with God and everything around you, and thus whatever you do is prayer.”
“Prayer is not simply making announcements to God and tell God what you need but rather, it is experiencing or embracing God’s supernatural presence in us (God IN and WITH us), in our surroundings, in our thoughts and actions, in our relationship with others, in everything,” Fr. Rohr avers.
In sum, I am impelled to think that through authentic PRAYER – we think, imagine, believe, feel, and enjoy the “indwelling of the Spirit,” as what St. Paul says in Romans 8:26-27, and thereby we can “say to a mountain to move from here to there” (Matthew 17:20), thus manifesting all our dreams and desires.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20).
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