Category Archives: Prayer
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
Humans do not live by bread alone
The most fundamental of human needs are for oxygen, water, food, sleep and shelter. Deprive a person of oxygen for a few seconds and they can think of nothing else. Deprive a human of drink for a day, and, throat parched, lips and tongue swollen and dry; every cell within craves water. Until the need is met, nothing else matters.
Tempted in the wilderness, and later nailed to a Roman gibbet, Jesus was thirsty. Human, he certainly thirsted for water.
But, Jesus has an even deeper hunger, an even deeper thirst, something that drives and consumes Him even beyond the need for water or oxygen.
His thirst is not for water. His hunger is not for air.
The deepest passion, longing, thirst, hunger of His being is for every human to experientially know God’s unconditional love.
If we love Him, how can we look at Him in His thirst and not bring Him a drink?
My ministry, my calling, my vocation, is to satiate Jesus’ thirst by bringing God’s love to women and men – in my particular case, by sharing the knowledge of new life in Christ in all its breadth, depth and strength.
It is why I live.
What is it for you? How has God called you to assuage the thirst of Jesus?
Spanish Carmelite friar and priest, St. John of the Cross (b: 1542, d: 1591) speaks of interior darkness, which must not be confused with depression or grief. Interior darkness, according to John, occurs in two forms in those who want to experience all of God.
First, there is “the night of the senses.” During such times, we feel cut off emotionally from God because we mistakenly perceive God’s light and love as darkness, emptiness and psychic pain. That happens because we are spiritually out of tune, we are used to relying on our senses. God is freeing us from sensory satisfactions, so we are no longer living by feelings. God is drawing us into contemplative prayer even as we continue doing what God has called us to do.
Second, John speaks of the “night of the spirit” during which we are purged from the deepest roots of imperfection. During those times, we feel abandoned by God. Our prayers feel like they are ricocheting off the ceiling. Mother Teresa lived for much of her life in this state. If you love God, these times are agonizing. God allows them to free us from all created things, all worldly attachments, so that He can make us fit instruments who live in lofty union with Christ.
What are we to do during these times?
- Focus on our core identity: We are fundamentally loved by God. That is who we are.
- Reiterate our unconditional surrender to Christ (something we can’t really do unless we are convinced at the core of our beings that God is perfect love and loves us unconditionally).
- Say your prayers. Here is the advantage of written prayers, such as those in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the prayers in the Psalms, or the Lord’s Prayer – during dark nights of the soul, we can’t think of what to say in prayer, but we can still say our prayers.
- Read your Bible every day.
- Keep doing what God has called you to do, whatever that is – visiting the sick, visiting the incarcerated, taking food to the homeless, preaching, sitting with the dying, visiting nursing homes …
Be assured, God is working a deep and lasting work within you.
To see sin, not as simply rebellion, or coming from a horrible, worthless person, but more Christianly as a self-inflicted wound, is to see it more clearly. Sin wounds me. Sin wounds others. Sin wounds creation. God is a loving Father who doesn’t want to see His children hurt themselves or others. Nor does He approve when they burn the house down. It’s not a matter of divine anger. It’s a matter of divine love.
I’ve often wondered about David’s statement in Psalm 51 when he says that he has sinned against God and God only and done this evil. I’m pretty sure Uriah would disagree with that.
And, along the same lines, I have wondered about Paul’s declaration in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he is the chief of sinners. How did he know he was the worst? Was he the worst of all time or just the worst so far? And, really, the worst? Worse than Caesar Nero and Attila the Hun (not to mention Hitler)?
It recently struck me that these statements are not hyperbole, expressions of a false humility, or evidence of very low self-esteem.
Both of those statements can only be honestly made by someone who is profoundly humble and completely nonjudgmental. The nonjudgmental person doesn’t see anyone else’s sin, only his/her own. She sees actions that hurt others and condemns injustice, but never judges the motives and hearts of those who commit the actions. She sees only the image of God in others.