Saturday, February 17, 2007

Entering the vulnerability of prayer

I have come to believe that the essence of Christian faith is vulnerability. It is definitely not to meet the world on our own terms of power, prestige or security.

Rather we enter the world as little babies and learn to follow Jesus' example of vulnerability. We trust only the will of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer is one entry point. To pray is to become vulnerable.

Sometimes we are dull, distracted or hardened and do not touch vulnerability in prayer. To break through this, we can pray the Jesus prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Following the spiritual traditions of the Orthodox Church, we can repeat the Jesus prayer until it sinks in. Over time the prayer will plow into our hardness until we come to compunction of heart. We will experience a tangible soreness near our physical hearts.

Compunction of heart is true vulnerability in prayer and openness to work of the Holy Spirit.

At other times, we may have the opposite problem. Rather than hardness of heart, we may be all too fearful or anxious. We withhold ourselves from prayer because we are afraid of what we may find. We do not want to feel our own vulnerability.

But we do not enter prayer alone. The Holy Spirit will go with us as guide and protector. Mother Teresa taught a wonderful little prayer to get us started:
“Come Holy Spirit, guide me, protect me.
Clear out my mind so I can pray.”

This was the starting point for one of my favorite opening songs.

[Come Holy Spirit guide me PDF]

Come Holy Spirit, guide me
Come Holy Spirit, protect me
Clear out my mind so I can pray
Pray Holy Spirit within me

Try this song and see if it helps.

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