Daily Riches: Skipping the Appointed Hour of Prayer (Abraham Heschel)

“Of all the sacred acts, first comes prayer.” Abraham Heschel

“About a hundred years ago Rabbi Isaac Meir Alter of Ger pondered over the question of what a certain shoemaker of his acquaintance should do about his morning prayer. His customers were poor men who owned only one pair of shoes. The shoemaker used to pick up their shoes at a late evening hour, work on them all night and part of the morning, in order to deliver them before their owners had to go to work. When should the shoemaker say his morning prayer? Should he pray quickly the first thing in the morning, and then go back to work? Or should he let the appointed hour of prayer go by and, every once in a while, raising his hammer from the shoes, utter a sigh: ‘Woe unto me, I haven’t prayed yet!’? Perhaps that sign is worth more than prayer itself. We, too, face this dilemma of wholehearted regret or perfunctory prayer, waiting for an urge that is complete, sudden, and unexampled. But the unexampled is scarce, and perpetual refraining can easily grow into a habit. We may even come to forget what to regret, what to miss.” Heschel

“Of all things we do prayer is the least expedient, the least worldly, the least practical. This is why prayer is an act of self-purification. This is why prayer is an ontological necessity.” Heschel

“To avoid prayer constantly is to force a gap between man and God which can widen into an abyss.” Heschel

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple
at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”
Acts 3:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The practice of daily prayer at fixed times has long been part of the practice of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. If it’s not your practice, have you ever considered its merits? . . . how might it benefit you?
  • Scheduled prayer can become “perfunctory.” Why be involved in something like that? What does Heschel say?
  • Practical pressures easily make prayer seem “the least expedient . . . the least practical” thing to do. In what way might stopping to pray at scheduled times be an “an act of self-purification” for you? Is prayer the “first” of all your sacred acts?

Abba, bring me back to you over and over throughout the day. I’m ever drifting.

For More: Man’s Quest For God by Abraham Heschel

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Daily Riches: Averse to Being Alone (Thomas Merton)

“In reality, all men are solitary. Only most of them are so averse to being alone, or to feeling alone, that they do everything they can to forget their solitude. How? Perhaps in large measure by what Pascal called ‘divertisement’–diversion, systematic distraction. By those occupations and recreations, so mercifully provided by society, which enable a man to avoid his own company for twenty-four hours a day. …the function of diversion is simply to anesthetize the individual as individual, and to plunge him in the warm, apathetic stupor of a collectivity which, like himself, wishes to remain amused. …Absurdity [is] the anguish of realizing that underneath the apparently logical pattern of a more or less ‘well organized’ and rational life, there lies an abyss of irrationality, confusion, pointlessness, and indeed of apparent chaos. This is what immediately impresses itself upon the man who has renounced diversion. It cannot be otherwise: for in renouncing diversion, he renounces the seemingly harmless pleasure of building a tight, self-contained illusion about himself and about his little world. He accepts the difficulty of facing the million things in his life which are incomprehensible, instead of simply ignoring them. Incidentally it is only when the apparent absurdity of life is faced in all truth that faith really becomes possible. Otherwise, faith tends to be a kind of diversion, a spiritual amusement, in which one gathers up accepted, conventional formulas and arranges them in the approved mental patterns, without bothering to investigate their meaning, or asking if they have any practical consequences in one’s life.” Thomas Merton

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture
that you fit into it without even thinking.”
Romans 12:1  (The Message)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you on the move from the moment you wake until your head hits the pillow at night?
  • Are you afraid to be still? …to be quiet? …to be alone? If so, what does this say about you?
  • How much do you watch T.V., browse the internet or play video games in an average week? Do those practices put you into an apathetic stupor, where nothing holds your attention or makes you think about what is real–what really matters?
  • Is your religion a kind of “spiritual amusement” which allows you to create a safe, controlled mental world, but doesn’t really ask anything difficult of you? Is it an escape from harsh realities?

Abba, deliver me from systematic distraction.

For more: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

 

Daily Riches: Only Stopping Will Do (A. W. Tozer, Dallas Willard)

It’s not enough to believe in silence, solitude and stillness. These things must be experienced–practiced. And practiced often enough to be routine, to create new habits–new pathways. And so I come to a full stop. I sit quietly. Nothing else. I don’t petition God. I don’t give thanks. I don’t meditate on some problem, verse or divine attribute. I don’t count my blessings. I don’t look out the window in wonder–or any number of other important things I might otherwise do. Not now. Not yet. Because, unless I can somehow first remember that it doesn’t depend on me, unless I can remember that I can’t do what needs to be done, then all is lost. And until I actually do this every day, numerous times throughout the day, there is little hope that I will ever learn to do it at all. Everything argues against stopping: the to-do list, the desire to be productive, the expectations of others, ego, habit, and so on. And therefore, ruthlessness is required in establishing new habits, new intentions, new ways of understanding my day, my life–indeed, my importance. And I do have intrinsic importance. I have the potential to be used in this world in important ways–but I squander that potential by flitting from one thing to the next without stopping to push back illusions. After all, these kenotic moments are the most important of the day. Nothing else will be so formative, and informative, for my day. Nothing else will save me from myself. Nothing else will prepare me to attend to God and others, and to what’s going on with me throughout the day. Would it be more important to take these moments to love my spouse, to feed a homeless child, to memorize Scripture or engage in worship? No, for unless I first submit to utter inactivity, I cannot trust my actual activity to be of any use to anyone–including, and especially, God. No-one needs my hurried self–the one that to me seems so indispensable–my egotistical self that sees itself at the center–as essential. Something must be done. Only stopping will do.

“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” A. W. Tozer

“He who believes will not be
in haste.”
Isaiah 28:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “in haste?” If so, why?
  • Are you attempting to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life?” (Dallas Willard)
  • Have you established practices to insure that you stop as you should?

Abba, may my stillness release your divine action.

For More: The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

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Thanks for following and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Purpose Driven or Just Driven? (Mark Buchanan)

“Drivenness may awaken purpose or be a catalyst for purpose, but it rarely fulfills it: More often it jettisons it. A common characteristic of driven people is that, at some point, they forget their purpose. They lose the point. The very reason they began something – embarked on a journey, undertook a project, waged a war, entered a profession, married a woman – erodes under the weight of their striving. Their original inspiration may have been noble. But driven too hard, it gets supplanted by greed for more, or dread of setback, or force of habit. Drivenness erodes purposefulness. The difference between living on purpose and being driven surfaces most clearly in what we do with time. The driven are fanatical time managers – time-mongers, time-herders, time-hoarders. Living on purpose requires skillful time management, true, but not the kind that turns brittle, that attempts to quarantine most of what makes life what it is: the mess, the surprises, the breakdowns, and the breakthroughs. Too much rigidity stifles purpose. I find that the more I try to manage time, the more anxious I get about it. And the more prone I am to lose my purpose. Truly purposeful people have an ironic secret: They manage time less and pay attention more. The most purposeful people I know rarely overmanage time, and when they do, it’s usually because they’re lapsing into drivenness, into a loss of purpose for which they overcompensate with mere busyness. No, the distinguishing mark of purposeful people is not time management. It’s that they notice. They’re fully awake.” Mark Buchanan

“And there arose also a dispute among [Jesus’ disciples]
as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.”
Luke 22:24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Which do you see as more valuable, “managing time” or “paying attention?” Which describes the way you live?
  • How often do you forget your real purpose and “lapse into drivenness?” Do you recognize it when it happens? If so, how?
  • Are you too rigid to benefit from the somewhat routine “surprises, the breakdowns, and the breakthroughs” of life?

Abba, when I lapse into drivenness, when I overcompensate with busyness, remind me not to hurry, remind me to be fully awake, remind me to listen well, to love well, and to choose a pace that allows for depth and intimacy with you and others.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Gifts that Solitude and Silence Give (Dallas Willard)

“Lay down your ideas as to what solitude and silence are supposed to accomplish in your spiritual growth. You will discover incredibly good things. One is that you have a soul. Another, that God is near and the universe is brimming with goodness. Another, that others aren’t as bad as you often think. But don’t try to discover these, or you won’t. You’ll just be busy and find more of your own doings. The cure for too-much-to-do is solitude and silence, for there you find you are safely more than what you do. And the cure of loneliness is solitude and silence, for there you discover in how many ways you are never alone. When you go into solitude and silence … you will need to stay there long enough for the inner being to become different. Muddy water becomes clear if you only let it be still for a while.

“You will know this finding of soul and God is happening by an increased sense of who you are and a lessening of the feeling that you have to do this, that, and the other thing…. That harassing, hovering feeling of ‘have to’ largely comes from the vacuum in your soul, where you ought to be at home with your Father in his kingdom. As the vacuum is rightly filled, you will increasingly know that you do not have to do many of those things – not even those you want to do. Liberation from your own desires is one of the greatest gifts of solitude and silence. When this all begins to happen, you will know you are arriving where you ought to be. Old bondages to wrongdoing will begin to drop off as you see them for what they are. And the possibility of really loving people will dawn upon you. Soon you will enter into the experience of what it is to live by grace, rather than just talk about it.” Dallas Willard

“He leads me beside quiet waters.” Psalm 23:2

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you truly given “solitude and silence” a try? If so, how does your experience match up?
  • Have you tasted what is it to “live by grace, rather than just talk about it?”
  • What change could you make to allow for more solitude and silence in your life?

Abba, meet in the quiet.

For More: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: The Restless Self Loves Its Illusions (Henri Nouwen)

“While teaching, lecturing, and writing about the importance of solitude, inner freedom, and peace of mind, I kept stumbling over my own compulsions and illusions. What was driving me from one book to another, one place to another, one project to another? …What was turning my vocation to be a witness to God’s love into a tiring job? These questions kept intruding themselves into my few unfilled moments and challenging me to face my restless self. Maybe I spoke more about God than with him. Maybe my writing about prayer kept me from a prayerful life. Maybe I was more concerned about the praise of men and women than the love of God. Maybe I was slowly becoming a prisoner of people’s expectations instead of a man liberated by divine promises. …I had succeeded in surrounding myself with so many classes to prepare, lectures to give, articles to finish, people to meet, phone calls to make, and letters to answer, that I had come quite close to believing that I was indispensable. …While complaining about too many demands, I felt uneasy when none were made. While speaking about the burden of letter writing, an empty mailbox made me sad. While fretting about tiring lecture tours, I felt disappointed when there were no invitations. While speaking nostalgically about an empty desk, I feared the day on which that would come true. In short: while desiring to be alone, I was frightened of being left alone. The more I became aware of these paradoxes, the more I started to see how much I had indeed fallen in love with my own compulsions and illusions, and how much I needed to step back and wonder, ‘Is there a quiet stream underneath the fluctuating affirmations and rejections of my little world?’” Henri Nouwen

“[Jesus] appointed twelve
that they might be with him….”
Mark 3:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has being a Christian or a minister become a “tiring job” for you?
  • Is your doing for God anchored in your being with God?
  • What were some of Nouwen’s illusions? his motivations? What are some of yours?
  • Is there a still point that anchors your life? What is that?

Abba, may I be a person liberated by divine promises, then useful to you and others.

For More:  The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: Do Nothing … and then Rest (Anne Wilson Schaef, Soren Kierkegaard and Mary Oliver)

“How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.”  Spanish proverb

“For many of us the thought of doing nothing is terrifying. We can’t imagine what life would be like if we were not slaving away at our projects. Not to have our projects waiting for us is like trying to live with parts missing. We have become so dependent upon the security of the next project that they are not longer our projects. We are owned by them. Workaholics often experience some depression when they complete a task. Instead of dealing with the natural feeling of letdown, we overlap completion with a new beginning. Hence, like the relationship addict, we never have to deal with separation or beginnings and endings. In fact, we never have to deal with anything.” Anne Wilson Schaef

“The press of busyness is like a charm. It is sad to observe how its power swells, how it reaches out seeking always to lay hold of ever-younger victims so that childhood or youth are scarcely allowed the quiet and the retirement in which the Eternal may unfold a divine growth.” Soren Kierkegaard

“I asked the boy beneath the pines.
He said, The master’s gone alone
Herb-picking somewhere on the mount,
Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.’”
Chia Tao – 8th Century

“Whereever I am, the world comes after me
It offers me its busyness.
It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand why the old poets of China
went so far and high
into the mountains,
then crept into the pale mist.”
Mary Oliver

“… in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,
and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”
Exodus 31:17

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you imagine living without “slaving away at your projects?” Are you “dependent upon the security of your next project” to anesthetize yourself to painful feelings or realities?
  • Are you able to “do nothing … and then relax?” Have you learned how to creep “into the pale mist?”
  • If it’s “quiet and retirement in which the Eternal may unfold a divine growth”, are you determined to regularly retire quietly … “gone alone?”

Abba, “Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not demanded of me.” Thomas Merton

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For More: Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Seeing Solitude as Intolerable (Blaise Pascal and Friedrich Nietzsche) *

“Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he faces his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness. And at once there well up from the depths of his soul boredom, gloom, depression, chagrin, resentment, despair.” Blaise Pascal

“When we are quiet and alone, we fear that something will be whispered in our ears,
and so we hate the quiet, and dull our senses in society.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“I have become like a bird alone on a roof.” Psalm 102:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you find it “intolerable” when you’re alone with nothing to do and nothing to distract you?  to be “in a state of complete rest?” Do you “dull your senses in society?”
  • This experience seems pretty unpleasant, sometimes even dangerous (“despair”), and yet, isn’t Pascal commending it to us, and Nietzsche warning us about what we do? Why do you suppose that is?
  • Are you willing to face your “nullity [nothingness], loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, [and] emptiness … in a state of complete rest?” What plan can you make to begin to try that? Who do you know who can help guide or encourage you?

Abba, I want to own my neediness and helplessness before you, and not dull my senses with vain distractions. Teach me to come into your presence and be at rest.

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For More: Pensees by Blaise Pascal

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These Daily Riches are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others as we seek to find our satisfaction in our unfailingly loving God. (Psalm 90:14) . I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Intolerable Solitude (Blaise Pascal)

“Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest,

without passions without occupation, without diversion, without effort.
Then he faces his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy,
dependence, helplessness, emptiness.
And at once there well up from the depths of his soul
boredom, gloom, depression, chagrin, resentment, despair.”
Blaise Pascal

“I have become like a bird alone on a roof.” Psalm 102:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you find it “intolerable” when you’re alone with nothing to do and nothing to distract you?  to be “in a state of complete rest?”
  • This experience seems pretty unpleasant, sometimes even dangerous (“despair”), and yet, isn’t Pascal commending it to us? Why do you suppose that is?
  • Are you willing to face your “nullity [nothingness], loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, [and] emptiness … in a state of complete rest?” What plan can you make to begin to try that? Who do you know who can help guide or encourage you?

Abba, I want to own my neediness and helplessness before you, to turn to you always and learn not to depend on myself. Teach me to come into your presence and just “rest.”

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For More: Pensees by Blaise Pascal

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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