Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 18, 2002
Prayer, like love asks us to surrender
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
Prayer is a question of unity and surrender, of uniting one's will with someone else and surrendering one's will to that other.
Jesus lifted his eyes towards heaven and that freed him of hatred, envy, group-think and mindlessness. What does this mean? How did he turn his eyes towards heaven?
What made Jesus different (and what makes any prayerful person different) is not intellectual insight, superior willpower, less fiery emotions, or monastic withdrawal from the temptations of the world.
Prayer is not a question of insight, of being smarter than anyone else; nor of will, of being stronger than anyone else; nor of emotional restraint or sexual aloofness, of being less passionate than anyone else; nor of withdrawal, of being less exposed to temptation than anyone else. Prayer is a question of unity and surrender, of uniting one's will with someone else and surrendering one's will to that other. Prayer is the desire to be in union with someone, especially in union with that other's will.
Perhaps the people that have understood this best are Alcoholics Anonymous groups. They long ago realized that it's not by strength of will or by intellectual insight that we keep from drowning. Nobody with an addiction of any kind has ever studied or willed their way out of that. Through pain and humiliation, he or she has eventually come to realize there is only one way out of helplessness, surrender of one's will to a higher power - God.
In essence, people get together at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to (as Scripture would put it) "turn their eyes towards heaven."
Each of us needs to find our own way of doing this if we are to cope with the forces that threaten to drown us. It's not through study or willpower that we will rise above ideology, anger, bitterness, discouragement, jealousy, restlessness, confusion, dissatisfaction, moral ineptitude, the endless practical demands of life and the compensations we give into in order to cope with all of this.
We will always be adrift, until we, like Jesus, regularly "turn our eyes towards heaven."
In my experience, the extraordinary people that I have known and admired all have had the same secret - they prayed privately.
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