Monday, January 28, 2008

Breathe In.

Writing on “The Goals of Inner Life” Evelyn Underhill asserts that “adoration, and not intercession or petition must be the very heart of the life of prayer.” Although we often use the acronym ACTS—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication—as a prescription for personal prayer, we seldom gain a clear understanding of what adoration really means.

Underhill expands our understanding when she writes movingly that prayer “must begin, end, and be enclosed in the atmosphere of adoration; aiming at God for and in Himself. Our ultimate effect as transmitters of the supernal light and love directly depends on this adoring attentiveness. In such a prayer of adoring attentiveness, we open our doors wide to receive His ever-present Spirit . . .” We seldom practice this kind of adoration when we pray. But our need to learn how to pray prayers of adoration is as necessary to maintaining a healthy spiritual life as breathing in is essential to our physical life.

“Only when our souls are filled to the brim can we presume to offer spiritual gifts to other people. The remedy for that sense of impotence, that desperate spiritual exhaustion which religious workers too often know, is, I am sure, an inner life governed not by petition but by adoring prayer. When we find that the demands made upon us are seriously threatening our inward poise, when we feel symptoms of starvation and stress, we can be quite sure that it is time to call a halt . . . ‘Our hearts shall have no rest save in Thee.’ It is only when our hearts are thus actually at rest in God, in peaceful and self-oblivious adoration, that we can hope to show His attractiveness to other people.

“Thus it is surely of the first importance for those who are called to exacting lives of service, to determine that nothing shall interfere with the development and steady daily practice of loving and adoring prayer, a prayer full of intimacy and awe. It alone maintains the soul’s energy and peace, and checks the temptation to leave God for His service. I think that if you have only as little as half an hour to give each morning to your private prayer, it is not too much to make up your minds to spend half that time in such adoration.

“For it is the central service asked by God of human souls and its neglect is responsible for much lack of spiritual depth and power” (Concerning The Inner Life, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, England, 1999, pages 47-50).

O come let us adore Him. Pray. Breathe In.

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