Learning to Pray from the Heart

… In a world that victimizes us by its compulsions, we are called to solitude where we can struggle against our anger and greed and let our new self be born in the loving encounter with Jesus Christ. It is in this solitude that we become compassionate people, deeply aware of our solidarity in broken with all of humanity an ready to reach out to anyone in need…

Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken…

In our chatty world, in which the word has lost its power to communicate, silence helps us to keep our mind and heart anchored in the future world and allows us to speak from there a creative and re-creative word to the present world… Too often words are superfluous, inauthentic, and shallow. It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people wouldn’t be better served by our silence than by our words…

For us who are so mind-oriented it is of special importance to learn to pray with and from the heart… We find the best formulation of the prayer of the heart in the words of the Russian mystic Theophan the Recluse: “To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.”

It is the mystery that the heart, which is the centre of our being, is transformed by God into His own heart, a heart large enough to embrace the entire universe. Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and work, all hunger, loneliness, and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God’s heart has become one with ours.

Here we catch site of the meaning of Jesus’ words. “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matt. 11:29-30)… we can carry this burden when our heart has been transformed into the gentle and humble heart of our Lord.

… Solitude, silence, and prayer allow us to save ourselves and others from the shipwreck of our self-destructive society… [from] the raging torrents of our tumultuous times…

From “The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence” by Henri Nouwen.


May we learn therefore to pray from the heart.

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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