Delight in Prayer
“Prayer should help us develop the habit of delight. We weight the notion of prayer with burdens of duty, holiness, and the struggle for perfection. Prayer should have the freedom of delight. It should arise from and bring us to humor, laughter, and joy. Religion often suffers from a great amnesia; it constantly insists on the seriousness of God and forgets the magic of divine glory. …
There is a subtle rhythm to joy. Until you break forth to embrace it, you will never know its power and delight. Every day of your life joy is waiting for you, hidden at the heart of the significant things that happen to you or secretly around the corner of the quieter things.” John O’Donahue, Eternal Echoes Page 186
Delight is probably not the first thing we think of happening to us when we come to a time of prayer. Perhaps we think of prayer more as a task or, as John O’Donahue says in the above passage, a duty. How can this be? Prayer is the time when we talk with God and God talks with us. How can this not be a time of delight for us?
If I visit a cherished friend, or speak with her on the telephone, or even write a letter to her, it brings me great joy. I look forward to my time with her, I anticipate the good time we are sure to have together, the secrets and stories we will share with one another, and when the visit, telephone call, or letter is finished I will continue to be filled with happiness, joy, and delight at the thought of our time together.
When we develop “the habit of delight” in prayer, we will find the same kind of happiness and joy in talking with God as we find with our life-long friends. Prayer will give us “the freedom of delight”. We have learned from childhood to put on a more sombre and careful tone when we speak to God but perhaps it would be possible for us to discover “the magic of divine glory” and so discover the spontaneity of “humor, laughter, and joy” in God’s presence, God’s world, and God’s people.
Judith is a Professional member of The Word Guild and author of two non-fiction books, Prayer Companion: A Treasury of Personal Meditation, and Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years, as well as one book of mystical poetry, Grapes from the Vine. Judith writes a monthly meditation, which can be found on her website: www.judithlawrence.ca. Judith’s latest spiritual book, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey is now available. You can purchase it through Wipf and Stock Publishers.