If I was to describe a place on a trail that I regularly go for walks on where you can see horses in the field with the Fraser River and Coastal Mountains rising up behind it all, it’s going to have extra feeling and meaning to you because you have been there before. If you haven’t been there and seen this lovely pastoral scene you might just shrug your shoulders and say, “sounds nice,” or worse yet you might just get bored and walk away. The best way to appreciate something, learn something, or experience something is go and see it and experience it for yourself.
The best way to learn how to pray - is to pray. When it comes to prayer, God and experience are the best teachers. As we engage ourselves in prayer, he will take us ever deeper into our hearts, and into his heart. As we pray we'll learn more and more about ourselves and about God. He will gradually teach us to pray, and transform our hearts and minds in the process.
I was reading James Finley's "merton's palace of nowhere" right on the heals of reading St. John of the Cross' "Living Flame of Love" for a course I am taking, and it hit me that I will never really understand what these guys are writing about unless I pray. They are describing places on a map that I have never been to. The little I can understand comes from my own experience with the Lord in prayer. Quite frankly the rest makes no sense at all!
Finley says that Merton once said to him:
the Church and the world do not need people to talk about prayer, think about prayer, write about prayer, nearly as much as they need people to pray.*
learning to pray: pray
* "merton's palace of nowhere" by James Finley