We are God’s beloved daughters and sons, not because we have proven ourselves worthy of God’s love, but because God freely chose us. . . . Voices [the endless seductions of our society] keep pulling us away from that soft gentle voice that speaks in the centre of our being: “You are my beloved, on you my favour rests”. Prayer is the discipline of listening to that voice of love. Jesus spent many nights in prayer listening to the voice that had spoken to him at the Jordan River. We too must pray. Without prayer, we become deaf to the voice of love and become confused by the many competing voices asking for our attention. How difficult this is! When we sit down for half an hour – without talking to someone, listening to music, watching television, or reading a book – and try to become very still, we often find ourselves so overwhelmed by our noisy inner voices that we can hardly wait to get busy and distracted again. Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys! But when we decide not to run away and stay focused, these monkeys may gradually go away because of lack of attention, and the soft gentle voice calling us the beloved may gradually make itself heard. Much of Jesus’ prayer took place during the night. “Night” means more than the absence of the sun. It also means the absence of satisfying feelings or enlightening insights. That is why it is so hard to be faithful. But God is greater than our hearts and minds and keeps calling us the beloved . . . far beyond all feelings and thoughts.  

Reference: Henri J. M. Nouwen, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, 123-124.


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