First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to God most earnestly to bring it to perfection…. Let us open our eyes to the light that comes form God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge: If you hear his voice today, harden not your hearts (Ps.94 :8). (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English. Prologue:4-10).
I am reading through a book during Advent. The title of the book is, Benedict’s Way: An Ancient Monk’s Insights for a Balanced Life written by Lonni Collins Pratt and Father Daniel Homan, OSB. Today’s chapter and meditation is on prayer. Lonni Collins Pratt talks about prayer in the same way a young child knows that an adult is in the same place as she/he is. The child doesn’t have to say anything, but with her/his eyes and giggles she/he knows that there is the presence of someone in the same place. Pratt suggests that one of the reasons why our hearts are so calloused is because of all of the places in our lives that we do not look for God to be there. The poor, the sick, the suffering,etc.
St. Benedict believed in the simplicity of prayer. His recommendation was that if someone wants to pray, that she/he should just pray. Keep it simple and short. Another way of saying this, is that if we want to seek God in whatever place or moment we find ourselves; all we have to do is pray.
Prayer is not just some activity we do on Sunday, or when we are in trouble, or need something. Prayer is about deepening our relationship with God and one another. The more difficult we make prayer, the harder it will be for us to notice God in all the places where God is to be found. Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB acknowledges that we are searching for the God who has already been found, and that what may actually be happening is that God is searching for us, waiting for us to notice that God is there.
In this season of Advent, let us watch for God in prayer by not hardening our hearts.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB