The Prayer of Longing

For most of us, our prayer-life consists of words. Maybe we say them spontaneously. Maybe we say them from memory. We pray by saying words. And lots of them.

However, the great teachers of Christian prayer see prayer quite differently. St. John Chrysostom, for example, says that prayer comes from the heart. It is wordless.

Words are fine, but at some point we to grow beyond them. We need to shift to a wordless prayer from the heart.

If we were to force ourselves to keep praying by words, and if we fought off this wordless prayer of the heart: we would eventually halt our own growth in prayer and closeness to God.

Praying by words creates a glass ceiling that eventually halts our growth. The way to break through that glass ceiling is the effortless way. It is by praying from our heart. The longing of our heart becomes our prayer.

John Chrysostom says prayer is a go-between that links us to God. It gives us joy and calms our emotions. He warns us to not imagine that prayer is simply words. Rather, prayer is our wordless desire for God.

Isn’t that liberating? Prayer isn’t concentration. It isn’t strenuous. It isn’t hard work at all. Prayer from the heart is easy. There’s no room for strictness. It’s life-giving. You can’t mess it up by not doing it right.

If the arrival of your daily prayer time stresses you out, it’s time to change the way you pray. Why not pray as St. John Chrysostom and the other doctors and mystics and saints and the Bible teach, simply by longing for God.

 

NOTES

Psalm 130:6. My soul longs for the Lord more than watchmen long for the morning; more than watchmen for the morning.

 


Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.