Pastor’s Blog Sept. 2020

Sep 3, 2020 by

Earlier in this challenging year, we were exploring in the newsletter different kinds of prayer. When COVID-19 broke out, this exploration was interrupted. Yet I think it is especially helpful to us during stressful and uncertain times to maintain the sustaining practices of prayer. So I would like to continue our discussion on prayer as I had promised to do. When we left off, we were beginning to explore kataphatic prayer, or “calling God by name.” Now, as we continue to examine kataphatic prayer, let us return at the same time to praying through the Psalms. Often, we can learn more about the true and loving nature of God if we learn to call God by new names, or by knowing God through created things. Praying the Psalms is a very helpful way of learning new names for God in our hearts.1 There are hundreds of such images or names for God in the Bible (for example, God is like light; a shepherd; streams of water that nourish the trees; a protective rock and shield; like a mother who comforts her child, etc.). At any given time in our lives, one of these images may strike home with us in a new and transforming way that helps us grow in our understanding of who God is. We cannot make that happen, but we can be intentionally and regularly receptive to it through regular prayer with the Psalms. When we discussed “praying through the Scriptures,” or Lectio Divina, in an earlier article, we spoke of how we sit quietly in God’s presence and slowly read through a Scripture text, letting that text be our prayer. When we pray through a Psalm in this way, we do not try to analyze or study it. Rather, we try to listen to how God may be speaking to us through the text, and know that we are in God’s presence, whether we experience God’s presence or not. If an image of God or God’s people comes alive for us in a new way, then we allow that image to unfold within us. We open ourselves to experiencing God in new and different ways and to expanding our understanding of who God is. Roberta Bondi writes that, since we are made in God’s image, every new name we learn for God carries with it a new name for us. As we grow in our understanding of God, we move out of the habits of our passions that inhibit us from loving well and into the freedom of loving more as God loves.2 In an upcoming issue, we will examine another type of prayer crucial to our growing in faith, that of apophatic prayer, or the way of unknowing.”

May God bless you richly,

Betsy Caudill

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