only you can teach me to pray

image / Conniemod, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
Listen, O Lord, to my prayers.  
Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, 
    and to let my whole being be filled with your presence.
But none of this is possible without you.
When you are not the one who fills me, 
    I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns
    that divide me and tear me away from you.
Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts,
    can be little more than distractions,
    when you are not their author.
O Lord, thinking about you, 
    being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions,
    being excited about histories of Christian spirituality
    and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation,
    all of this can be as much an expression of greed
        as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.
Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray,
    only you can set my heart at rest,
    only you can let me dwell in your presence.
No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you
    unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments 
    become the way to you.
But, Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative;
    let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour
    when you will come and break through 
        all the walls I have erected.
Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, 
he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

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