Jelly Morgans reflects on going deeper into prayer…..
Brother Ramon, a Franciscan who described himself as a catholic-evangelical, wrote much about the more mystical dimensions of Christianity and of prayer. In The Flame of Sacred Love, he used a beautiful image from Ezekiel:
Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water, and it was up to the waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed.
Brother Ramon uses this passage as an invitation from God to enter deeper into prayer, guided by Jesus, just as Ezekiel entered the water at different depths.
• Ankle-deep could perhaps be excitement and playfulness, and even the most practiced swimmer needs to begin at this level. This could represent petitionary prayer, for forgiveness, for deliverance, for help, for strength.
• Knee-deep might represent intercessory prayer as we make gradual progress going deeper. It gives us greater awareness of ourselves, and for others, and concern for those who cannot pray for themselves. It is our participation in the flowing tide of the Holy Spirit on behalf of humanity.
• Waist-deep represents a prayer of adoration, and of thanksgiving. We are safe, and joyful, able to keep our feet on the ground or lay back with confidence. We are resting, floating, sustained by our trust in God. This gives us the confidence to go further.
• Out of our depths, the experience can become contemplative prayer. There is an adrenaline rush, breathlessness and it is scary and overwhelming. Yet, Brother Ramon assures us, it is inevitable for those of us seeking the depth of God’s loving mystery.
If we begin this adventure of prayer here and now, the effect will be gentle but radical. We are all called to this deeper place, out of our comfort zones and beyond our experience. It is important to travel the whole journey, and to remember our love for others and for God along the way. Don’t rush it, and don’t hide from it.
But, we have to accept the invitation to dip our toes into the water in the first place. This can be the hardest part.
Jelly Morgans is Convenor of SCM's General Council. She is also a chaplaincy assistant and student worker in Sheffield.
This is part of a series of blog posts we are running in the lead up to SCM’s annual conference: Still Small Voice 2011. Bookmark this link to read other posts in the series.
Friday, October 01, 2010
Still Small Voice 2: Going Deeper | Student Christian Movement