by John S. Mogabgab
"God is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27). Paul's wisdom draws our attention to the most intimate truth and most comprehensive circumstance of human life. The One who created us takes particular pleasure in our company and has untiring concern for our well-being. Even the hairs on our head attract the loving notice of our God (Matt. 10:30). Yet God also encompasses the widest circumference of our hope, awaiting us at the furthest fulfillment of our best destiny. Nearby with the tender regard of a new parent, watching patiently for us at the far-flung boundaries of our existence, God's presence is at once inescapable and cloaked in mystery. While impelled by an inner magnetism drawing heart to Heart, our search for God is nevertheless often groping and uncertain. For this reason, Jesus encourages us to "pray always and not to lose heart" (Luke 18:1)
Becoming more conscious of God's nearness, encountering the gracious contours of God's favor toward us, releasing ourselves ever more completely into the vast flow of God's rejuvenating love for the world--these are the great currents of prayer so fully manifested in the life of Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus going apart to pray. In the secret converse of those hours, he partakes of an intimacy so complete that only the imagery of mutual indwelling can begin to convey its depth (John 17:21). In the silence of prayer, Jesus continues to absorb the implications of the words spoken to him at his baptism, words that confirm his identity unalterably in an eternally constant divine love (Mark 1:11). In the agony of prayer, confidence in the truth of those baptismal words surrounds Jesus with the sweet incense of freedom as he delivers himself without reserve into the unimaginable path of God's purpose and delivers his tormentors from the fearful weight of their guilt (Luke 22:42; 23:34).
Jesus prayed always, and right to the end did not lose heart. Indeed, his heart was strong enough to bear the whole shattered world in compassion. Spiritual formation shapes our heart in the mold of Jesus. As this sculpting of a new self proceeds, the counsel to pray always takes on new resonance. We find that for ourselves, as for Jesus, continuous prayer is not only a sustained practice but a sustaining posture, not only a means to find God but the medium of life with God, not only a source of comfort and consolation but a service of consecration in the truth of God's word and will.
This excerpt is from the Editor's Introduction of Weavngs: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, May/June 1998. John Mogabgab is the founding editor of Weavings. For more go to www.weavings.org