I have gone through some “cycles” in my thoughts about prayer. Mainly, they have to do with my compulsions about words. In these cycles what happens is a realization that the quantity of words used has nothing to do with the quality of prayer and, in fact, may indicate a certain lack of trust. What happens in this cyclic scenario is that I feel the urge to simplify the prayers I say. Yet, over time, I am witness to their growing again more complicated and wordy. With this realization, I begin all over again. What I really believe is that prayer takes two things as fundamental: 1) trust; and, 2) a composure of the heart (disposition).
Words, whether in these letters, or read, or spoken don’t really have a lot to do with it. True, we are comfortable using words because words are what people use with each other to express need, love, or gratitude, but this human need for words is also what makes it difficult to trust that You don’t need words. What seems truly needed here is a natural and honest compliance with Your oft-repeated admonition to “fear not.” Don’t be afraid that you haven’t said enough prayers or used enough words, or prayed “hard” enough. If our hearts are disposed to Your constant presence in us, if we work on composing our hearts in conformity with Yours, and if we live this life in Your spirit, then what we “say” to You can be quite simple and filled with great trust – for You know our needs and You know what is best for us. I know in my heart that this is true, but I do not stop throwing tons of words at You. I do not trust enough. My lack of trust in people and my desire to “do it myself” comes into strong play here. “Letting go” without fear is very difficult. But “letting go” with trust may be the very best prayer of all. Persistence in prayer is not what I’m talking about here. Persistence is a given. You have told us to keep knocking on that door and our persistence will be answered. What we should understand is that, for You, trust and simple prayer is all that is needed.