Since I was a young boy the spiritual life has called to me. I’ve been fascinated by it and it has beckoned me. I have taken my spiritual conquests to the edge of my limits and stared down the road to madness. Yet, more and more as the days go by I find myself not turning to prayer anymore.
For years I would pray every morning. I would constantly speak to God. Then one day I decided to spend more time listening in silence. For a few years I spent my prayer time sitting and being nothing. Now, I find I am not particularly inclined to do either. I still do sit in silence a couple times a week, but I am drawn more and more to writing, and filming nature.
It’s not that I have come to some “enlightened” world view that thinks prayer is meaningless – it’s just that I’m not feeling called to it in the same way. I often feel guilty, like I should be consumed with desire for prayer. Why am I so apathetic? Why I am so single-mindedly focused on making art? I barely even read.
I want to pray. Yet, I wonder how much I want to be seen as a man who prays. I want to see myself that way. I want to be devout. I want to be a super spiritual wilderness hermit. I’ve never really thought of myself as an artist.
I don’t think there is one thing that is best all the time. Sometimes we need silence. Sometimes we need music. Sometimes we need to travel. It reminds me of that famous verse from scripture that the Byrds brought back into the public’s mind. It originally comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Here’s the song
I think that Ecclesiastes is such a wise book. Right now I am in the season of making art. I am sure that one day I will find myself back in the season of prayer.
If I judge myself for not being inclined to pray, then I am judging from the perspective of my false self. If I truly want to be empty of self, I will focus my energies where God leads me. There’s a little quote from Meister Eckhart that I think is really important. It goes like this:
Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love a cow – for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God, when they love Him for their own advantage.
If my prayer life is driven by my own desire for inner comforts, if my prayer life is something that I need in order to feel secure in my relationship with God, then I am praying in the wrong direction.
If God is to direct my life, then I have no need to question where I am being led. The gentle stirring of the heart leads us. This is faith: to touch eternity within and then to let that eternity pour out through you and into the world.
This is what follows after the lyrics in the song, Ecclesiastes 3:1-14
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.
God has placed eternity in our heart, yet we cannot fathom what eternity is. For this reason a simple life is best. One in which you find satisfaction in your toil and in the food you eat. What is eternal within us will never change, whether we pray or not.
So, if God calls you to prayer, then pray. If God calls you to speak truth to power, then turn the tables of the money lenders. If God calls you to make art, then pour your heart into whatever you create.
I would like to leave you with one last quote, this one from Martin Luther King Jr
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’
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