I have just put away a book on prayer. I thought i needed to read it because my prayerfulness has not been that great or that consistent. It is short as books go but it has been a painful struggle and after three months, i have not finished it. I thought it might be because the book is on Christian prayer that i struggled with it; but the author went out of his way to make his discussion generic, and the approach is very compatible with the mystical traditions which i love. The problem for me seemed to focus on this question: "How much can one human being usefully say to another human being about prayer?
Jesus, who ought to be a model for Christians, prayed silently and privately and advised his followers to follow suit -- prayer means orison, not oration. He admired simple prayers: "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." When his disciples allegedly asked him how to pray, he said this:
Father, may your name be holy.
May your rule take place
Give us each day our daily bread.
Pardon our debts, for we pardon everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us into a trying situation. (Q1)
We have insisted on expanding and elaborating on this simple prayer, putting words in Jesus' mouth so to speak.
If Jesus had little to say about prayer, the Buddha, and the writer(s) of the Tao Te Ching said even less.
Prayer is, i believe, a cultural universal, yet i have seen no theory of prayer until relatively recent times, and most of what i have encountered has seemed pretty useless.
The book i
"You can't begin to change the human being you are until you start to understand that you live in a world that is, by and large, ten thousand times greater in its invisibility than its visibility."--Guy Finley
But unless we mean by prayer the entire conversation between the visible humanity and the invisible divinity (and even that may be far more simple than we imagine) prayer is certainly not rocket science.