I happened to be reading an introduction in William Cleary’s book, “We Side with the Morning” when I came across this beautiful passage about prayer, the difficulties some have with it and what prayer can be compared to.
“Some people tell me they have given up on prayer. Why? It doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work for them. And it’s all too impossible to figure out: it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps, in a way, such folks are the wisest. On the other hand, I think it makes sense to pray as long as we realize that talking to God is like talking to your dog. We speak in English to our dog, but he mostly pays attention to our smell. Similarly, we may soar around in the cloud of unknowing trying to talk to God, but God of course is mostly paying attention for the aroma of compassion for those who are lonely and in need, those who are thirsty and hungry, and whom we help with water, food, and housing.”
William Cleary, “We Side with the Morning” Introduction
What I found most amazing about this quote was the comparison that Cleary about prayer to God being like talking to your dog. Dogs are focusing on our smell while we speak to them. God is focusing on our hearts when we speak to Him. I thought about how we all waste such precious emotional and mental energy trying to come up with the right words to say in prayer to God. We get frustrated when we feel our prayers aren’t verbose enough or maybe when we have plenty to say we feel like broken records. But really, there are no right amount of words that make the perfect prayer. No, it is in the heart of the prayer that God hears. So if we focus our hearts, not our words on God, maybe the message would be delivered more clearly. He wants to feel our hearts. He wants us to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
In the next few weeks, I’ll be working on a gallery of Cleary’s prayer which will be posted on Beliefnet.com. Stay tuned for the link…