I’ve spent much of my adult life amidst prayer in one form or another. It irrevocably replaced the sitting meditation of Zen Buddhism when I was 17, when circumstances aligned in such a way that I found myself with an open bible in hand, and I was reading in 2 Peter 2, how false teachers were doomed, being led astray by destructive doctrines, the pollutions of the world. I cannot remember the exact passage that did in transcendental bliss, but from then on I found myself unable to quench the thirst for God’s word (and unable to sit in meditation, also).
My prayer life began in earnest when I was thrown into a foreign country, with only my bible as my sure foundation. I learned to pray as most protestants do: Our Lord’s Prayer, helps for the sick, protect our missionaries, the common “be with me” shtick.
For a time, the charismatics I encountered tried their best to illuminate my spiritual life – that I might receive the supposed full outpouring of the Holy Spirit – so that I might have evidences (gibberish tongues, vague prophesies, the gambit). It simply would not stick.
Several years in, I was introduced to a small, organic group meeting in the back of a Tire Shop, that met six days a week, who brought me new and refreshed life during a trying time of searching and uncertainty. It did not last long, though, and again I was tossed back into the den of wolves that is this world, and also is the modern church.
Then the failure of marriage, weighted with all the unanswered fervent prayers for solution, it leaves one apathetic, bitter, cold at heart, and disillusioned. That’s when I discovered the contemplative life. A whole expression of the Christian faith that is all but unheard of in protestant, conservative, evangelical circles. This different path, drawn by the mystical, followed by the “called,” I dipped my toe in and come away – unsure.
All I know at this time is: I am broken. I have often, in prayer, lacked the words to speak and dread the knee-jerk corporate prayers of the institution. In my heart, I see these as simply having a form of Godliness but none of his power. I also stand, in this moment, afraid. Terrified of what he will ask of me.
It is an unexplainable call to solitude. It is a personal choice, of course. So, too, is becoming a music director, or a missionary. Do they feel any more called than I to the contemplative life. How is it wrong for me to want to spend my time fully devoted to being in the presence of God? Would not that outward life stand as a testament to the world? Why have the evangelicals so quickly denounced? I am curious.
A life of prayer? This is where I begin.