Friday, April 23, 2010

Henri J.M. Nouwen on the Necessity of Prayer

The older I get the less I find that I can effectively multi-task. Yet, no matter what else I'm doing I can pray. Problem is I forget that sometimes; I think of prayer as a separate, distinct spiritual practice that is to be done at certain times and in certain forms. I've been like that pretty much my whole life. Yet, the fact of the matter is, no matter what else I'm doing at the time, I can, should I choose, always pray. Doesn't have to be an audible prayer. Indeed, on could argue that prayer is as much attitude as it is action. Either way, it is a necessity.

Let me share some words of Nouwen with you about prayer. Keep in mind that we are, by virtue of being Christians, ministers.

To live in the name of Jesus Christ means first of all to live in intimate communion with Jesus, and through Him with our divine Father. One of the most painful and tragic aspects of the Christian ministry is that many, if not most, ministers are in touch with numerous people but out of touch with their Lord, are involved in many things but isolated from divine 'affairs' (Luke 2:49). Yet only one thing is necessary: to keep our eyes on our Lord, to remain attentive to His will and to listen with care to His voice (Luke 10:42).

Prayer is the basis and the center of all our ministry. The minister must be first and foremost a man or woman of prayer. Without prayer, ministry quickly degenerates into a busy life in which our own needs for acceptance and affection start to dominate our actions and being busy becomes a way of convincing ourselves of our importance. [...] Only by deep, strong and persistent prayer can we escape the illusion of self-importance through a deepening knowledge that Jesus is our Lord, our Shepherd, our Refuge and our Stronghold, our Wisdom and our Strength.

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