Prayer Is Paying Attention

 Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.

-- Simone Weil

We uswed to have a row of overgrown rhododendron bushes along the front of our house that bloomed riotously twice each year.  One fine spring morning when the rhododendrons were in bloom I ventured out to fetch the paper and stood transfixed on my front steps.  It had rained during the night, and the white blossoms now sparkled in the early-morning sunlight.  I ran inside for my camera.  I attached a macro lens for close-up work and a polarizing filter to reduce glare from the sun, then went back out.  I hovered over the blossoms as assiduously as any bee, the camera pressed to my eye as I snapped away. With my macro lens I had a bee’s-eye view of tapered pink buds, translucent white petals flecked with gold and raindrops glistening in the sun.   I was reminded once again that God is in the details.

How many years had I rushed off to work each morning, oblivious to the splendor that lay at my own doorstep?  In such matters we must be ruled by the eye rather than the mind, which is always looking elsewhere for satisfaction.  We live our lives like tourists in search of a scenic overlook and thereby overlook everything that lies within our grasp at every moment. We pray much the same way, addressing our pleas to a God that is seemingly far removed from what is actually happening right now.  And if we think our prayers go unanswered, perhaps it is because we ourselves are often removed from what is happening right now. Jesus warned people not to heap up empty phrases when they prayed, thinking they would be heard for their many words.  As one enters deeply into prayer, words begin to seem like a distraction, if not entirely superfluous.  All we really need to do when we pray is to pay attention.  

Matthew 6:7

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