Prayer as Dialectical Tension

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

In his Lenten blog submission for this week, Rev. Lou continues to remind or expand our awareness of Christianity in the Eastern tradition.  His focus on the “dialectic of prayer” invites us to explore again our experience, belief and practice concerning prayer.

______

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

In his Lenten blog submission for this week, Rev. Lou continues to remind or expand our awareness of Christianity in the Eastern tradition.  His focus on the “dialectic of prayer” invites us to explore again our experience, belief and practice concerning prayer.

_________________________________________________

Across the Christian tradition, perhaps the most consistent association made with Lent is prayer.  There are many forms of prayer and a variety of ways to pray. In the Christian tradition, prayer encompasses those activities meant to draw an individual to greater intimacy with the Divine.

In the Eastern Christian tradition, prayer is structured in a kind of dialectical tension.  Both aspects of the dialectic are understood to be necessary for a balanced spiritual life; each part of the dialectic has a unique focus.

One side of the dialectic in the dynamic life of prayer in the Eastern Christian tradition is liturgical prayer.  Those who have attended a service in a Greek or Russian Orthodox Church have experienced the way in which Eastern Christian liturgy can be larger than life.  The walls and ceiling of an Eastern Christian church are decorated with icons, while the church itself is lit by countless candles and scented by smoldering incense.  By design, Eastern Christian liturgy is meant to draw an individual toward the transcendent nature of the Divine.  The liturgy is intended to transport the individual from ordinary experience to the heavenly realm.

The other dialectic of prayer is that of personal prayer.  In the Eastern Christian tradition, personal prayer is contemplative, including practices like the mantric repetition of the Jesus Prayer or gazing in silence at a familiar icon.  Such practices focus on a process of self-emptying, enabling the person at prayer to rest with the Divine who is at the heart of her or his being.

During the Lent, the dialectic tension between transcendent liturgical prayer and immanent contemplative prayer is bridged in a unique way.  At the close of each liturgical service, the congregation recites the ancient Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephrem of Syria.

Ephrem was fourth century (CE) poet and hymnographer. Approximately 400 pieces of his work have survived.  Of them, the Lenten Prayer is best known.  It beautifully encapsulates the ordinary challenges many people experience in their growth toward wholeness.

 Lord, Keep from me a spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust of power, and idle gossip.  Rather, give me a spirit of wholeness of being, humble mindedness, patience, and love.  Grant me the grace to be aware of when I miss the mark and to not judge others, for you are blessed, always and forever. Amen.

Rather than attempting to explain the significance of the words of this simple prayer, I simply want to invite you to take time to quietly and reflectively be in prayer with Ephrem’s words.  Allow his gentle spirit to help direct your heart and mind toward the wholeness to which we are drawn in this Lenten Spring.

Read more http://whereheartandmindmeet.ccuccatl.com/2012/03/23/prayer-as-dialectical-tension/

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now, but you can send us an email and we'll be in touch soon.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt