Pastor’s Blog-Feb. 2020

Mar 6, 2020 by

The Abbas and Ammas of the ancient Egyptian desert were clear in their teachings that no one way of prayer was right for everyone. They emphasized time and again that God reveals God’s self to each person according to that person’s needs. Therefore, they taught a wide variety of ways to pray.1 Most all of them drew heavily on the psalms in prayer. But beyond that, some held that prayer was very hard work, while others utilized a simple call to God for help and mercy in the face of temptation, with many other ways in between.

Prayer is the expression of our relationship with God, so it will be different for different ones of us. Roberta Bondi teaches that, in order to pray, we all need a measure of humility.2 We need to let go of any notion that we need to be good enough or in a holy mood before we can pray. We are always in God’s presence. God knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us immeasurably. We need to enter prayer exactly as we are and relate to God with our whole being.3

With the understanding that humility is a foundation for our prayer, we will begin to explore a number of ways to pray. Now, we will explore two ancient ways of prayer that come to us through someone who came to be known as Dionysius.4 In the first way of prayer, we draw closer to God the more we learn about who God really is for us and the world. This way is called kataphatic prayer. It’s also known as “calling God by name,” or knowing God through created things. In the second way, we come to realize the ways that the things we know about God can often hinder our being with
God and to practice learning how to set that knowledge aside. This way is called apophatic prayer, or “the way of unknowing.”5 Both ways of prayer are important and essential to Christian prayer. In upcoming issues, we will examine these two ways of prayer more closely before moving on to another prayer practice.

Wishing for you God’s Grace and Peace, Betsy Caudill

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