I have been on an UnCommon Journey with God in prayer for the past 30 years. I say “in prayer” because that is the one place in my Christian life where I struggle the most. And it’s in that struggle that, for reasons unknown, God meets me. Not with bright lights or a deep, reverberating voice. He meets me in the simple and quiet carnage of my heart. In the stench, I discover the sweet-smelling fragrance of God’s mercy and love. It is beyond me, and at the same time, in me. In my struggle, I’ve found some help from the life and writings of a seasoned Saint.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
Meet St. Gregory Palamas
Let me introduce you to St. Gregory of Sinai (1296–1359) also known as St. Gregory Palamas, who devoted over 40 years of his life to God in prayer. He literally lived a life of prayer. When he speaks of prayer, you listen. He writes,
“The true beginning of prayer is warmth of the heart, which scorches passions, fills the heart with the joy and delight of unshakable love and strengthens it with sure conviction.”
True prayer is a love relationship with the Trinity. God gives the warmth that burns away sin and fills the heart with love and conviction. You do not manufacture that yourself. The one praying receives God’s cleansing warmth, joy, love and strength, as he/she relates with (communes with) God. It’s the experiential version of, “We love him because he first loved us.”
In true prayer, the heart is warmed, sins are burned away, and a delightful experience of God takes place.
He writes this in the context of extraordinary phenomena that some people believe happens to them when they pray. People see lights, flame, an image of Jesus or angels or some extraordinary phenomena. But St. Gregory warns against these self-created fantasies. There are subtleties between the real thing and the profane which novices in prayer are unable to discern.
Here’s the Take Away
Prayer is about a relationship with God. In this prayer relationship you walk a journey of transforming love.
Is this what’s happening with you in prayer? Take St. Gregory’s words to heart. Follow the guide of a person who has spent a lifetime of intimacy with God in prayer.
Comment below on how you respond to the teaching of St. Gregory.