The mystical experience that defies language to describe
I have been thinking a little about prayer, how we talk about it, and all the different things it is and perhaps how it is connected to true humility.
There are a lot of metaphors that we use around prayer, we say things like;
"God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer," Mother Teresa.
"Prayer is when you talk to God, meditation is when you listen to God," Anonymous.
"Our prayers are sometimes answered without us realising," Catherine Pulsifer.
"Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night," George Herbert.
"Prayer is talking to God", my Sunday School Teacher, many years ago.
What I have been thinking is that perhaps there is a very real reason that we talk in metaphors, about prayer, which is because we have no direct language to describe it.
Prayer is the most accessible mystical experience that we are invited into, and like all mystical experiences it defies the attempt of language to pin it down, words and phrases can only point us in the direction of a practice, engaging earnestly in that practice can point us towards God.
Sometimes that practice can be about thinking, or verbalising, those aspects of life that are concerning, recognising how little power we have, and letting them go.
I am assured that is psychologically healthy, which is its' own benefit. Sometimes it is about calling to mind moments of life for which we are grateful, again psychologically helpful, and a practice worth engaging in.
Some days it is an expression of pain, or grief; joy or longing, perhaps just hope.
All of these things individually can be of great benefit, but in the context of prayer they can provide a sense of both our own value and smallness, which is perhaps the true definition of humility.
Standing as tall as one can, measured against the infinite.
Rev. Andrew Schmidt Good Shepherd Anglican Church