Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Midweek Meditation: "Genuine Prayer" (David Steindahl-Rast)

"Private prayers" is a misleading phrase. First of all, true prayers are never private. If prayers are private, they are not truly prayer. Whatever is private excludes someone. A private club has an exclusive membership; if a road is private, all but the owners are deprived of its use. But genuine prayer comes from the heart, from that realm of my being where I am one with all. It is never a private affair. Genuine prayer is all-inclusive. A great teacher of prayer in the Jewish tradition expressed this well: “When I prepare myself to say my prayers I unite my- self with all who are closer to God than I am so that, through them, I may reach God. And I also unite myself with all who may be farther away from God than I am, so that, through me, they may reach God.

Christian tradition calls this the communion of saints. Whenever we pray, we pray in community. This is why some prefer to speak of "personal" rather than "private" prayers. But that won't get us far. What is the alternative to personal prayer? Impersonal prayer? Let us hope that there is no such thing. Still, we do need to distinguish between praying together with others and praying by ourselves. I will call these two areas prayers together and prayers alone. 

(David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, NY: Paulist Press, 1984, p51-52)

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