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Beginning to pray


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Anthony Bloom, in his book Beginning to Pray, categorises three broad approaches to God: spontaneous prayer straight from the heart, regular prayers of faith and lastly, those spoken from habit or a sense of duty.

Not quite the author’s phrases but rather my own understanding. For people seriously into prayer yet hearing only their own echo, Anthony Bloom suggests a period of quiet seclusion doing nothing.

As time goes by and the poverty of one’s spiritual reserves becomes evident, he suggests we go in search of what makes us tick. Like a Russian Doll, we have several personae – the one we show to the world which if removed, reveals another known only by family and close friends. Alright so far and these two facsimiles will get us through the average day without too much stress.

Further still, sitting quietly doing nothing and continuing to look inward, a third person is discovered with reserves of self-conceit, self-sufficiency and pride that gives strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

I like what I see and feel self-satisfied but curiosity drives me deeper in search of the pot of gold that I hope represents my soul. Opening the fourth Doll releases a Pandora’s Box of personal horrors kept closed only by the weight of its larger sisters. Can’t go back, must go forward into the darkness from whence came the original echo of my prayers.

Finding the inmost self to be small and frightened, and with no way back then perhaps the prayer “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner” will be heard.

Faith needs few words when coming from the heart however painful. In searching for the truth about ourselves, for some it will be harder than for others.

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