Food of Prayer

 

I have rather hated the stereotype that religious people need religion as a crutch.  Prayers, Scripture, faith itself, they say, are all wishful thinking that bring comfort to the elderly, the poor, and the disabled.  “Poor things.  Let them have their church.”

fingers praying

For me, religion has been much more of a challenge than a comfort.  It was in the beginning and it is still now.  But, it would be foolish of me to push away the comforting and consoling aspect of faith just so that I won’t fall into prejudicial people’s stereotypes.  When turning to God intentionally, with my whole body, mind, heart, and soul, it is good and it is right to receive from God some solace.  No one loves me more than God loves me, no one delights in me more than God delights in me, no one cares about my joy more than God cares about my joy, and no one else has my eternal life in hand but God.  Knowing this, to whom else would I turn?

Lately, for almost all of 2017 so far, I have been in need of solace.  I need comfort and, for me, that means that I need wisdom.  I need a glimpse of the big picture so that, in faith, I may know what is right and have peace.  I need a full relationship with God.  I freely admit this.  Does this mean, then, that religion has become a crutch for me?  Well, if I am lame, don’t I need a crutch?  Would the atheistic-minded naysayers of the world have me crawl or lie motionless on the ground?  The mistake that nonbelievers make is in thinking that they are not crippled in the limitedness of being human.  They are limping, crawling, or not moving at all – and they don’t even know it.

 

As Basic As Food

Your body needs nourishment.  When you are hungry, do you not eat?  When you are thirsty, do you not drink?  If you care at all for the life of your body, then you take care of your body by giving it the sustenance that it essentially needs.

Nonbelievers don’t believe in the existence of the soul, but believers do.  And this belief of ours is not necessarily due to wishful thinking (it hasn’t been on my part).  Rather, we are not so limited in our understanding of life and existence as to think that there exists only what can be perceived, in one way or another, with one tool or calculation or another, by the five physical senses and the grasping of the human brain.  We are not so naïve as that.  We are not so arrogant to think that the universe – and the cause behind the universe – can fit into our limited brains.

We have taken a leap of faith – not to belief in the nonexistence of God and spirit, but to belief in the real existence of God and spirit.  There is the unknowable – and atheists and believers fall on either side of the divide.

I am a believer.

The human soul needs nourishment.  Spiritual nourishment, because the soul is of spirit.  There are times in my life when I feel my soul’s need, my soul’s hunger and thirst, and I give to my soul what is needed for sustenance.  This is practical and reasonable.  In those times when I need the strength of my spirit, I feed upon Sacred Scripture, Sacraments, and prayer.  Then, my soul has what is required to do what my soul needs to do – live fully, live well, embracing divine grace and reflecting divine love.

To refuse to experience the comfort and solace of this is like refusing to eat when you are hungry or drink when you are thirsty.

I am fully alive.

© 2017 Christina Chase

10 thoughts on “Food of Prayer

  1. Christina,
    Who would deny that you are fully alive?
    This is from Mary Webb, and is called ‘TO LIFE’. Since Someone claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life, you can read it in the light of John’s Gospel. This will appear in Agnellus Mirror sometime in the Autumn, unless I save it for Holy Week. It fits there as it does in daily life at times.

    Will.

    Fair, fierce Life! What will you do with me?
    What will you make me?
    Take me and break me,
    Hurt me, or love me,
    But throne me not lonely and safely above thee,
    Sweet Life!

    Radiant, terrible Life! See now, I offer thee
    Body and spirit.
    Let me inherit
    Agony–wonder:
    But leave me not icily, numbly asunder,
    Dear Life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love her! Went on Amazon to find some audible books (since that’s what I could most easily “read” now that I can’t hold a lovely real book anymore) and I’m wondering – is Precious Bane hers? And Gone to Earth? Mr Tallent’s Ghost?
      “Agony–Wonder” indeed… Thank you for sharing her with me, Will!

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  2. Love this post.
    I have been told many times that my faith is a crutch, but I see it as a real gift and a source of strength.
    I also think that just like we need food to nourish the body, so to do we need a “soul doctor” to help us along in our journey of faith. Whether it be the church and its sacraments, scripture, Confession, etc., our soul is in continual need of feeding to stay fully alive in Christ. So beautiful to read your posts!

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    • Yes, a persistent stereotype. Heavy sigh. Pride certainly goes before the Fall, and I feel sorry for people who don’t know that they need to feed and care for their souls – how else can they be fully human, fully alive?
      Thank you for reflecting with me and being a true companion in the journey of life!
      Pax Christi
      Christina

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  3. Hi Christina. Good reflection. I mean, good for me to read. I was especially struck by the image of persons “thinking that they are not crippled.” Sometimes I even fall into that trap precisely because I go to church regularly and say my prayers and look for ways to help others–as if doing those things were a guarantee of healing. (Pride seems to lurk even in the mist of good intentions and an approvedroutine.) As before, your words stay with me. They convey real life as well as honest faith. Keep writing.

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    • Thank you for this reflection! I hadn’t thought about it, but, yes, we may indeed think that we are “perfect” because we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. As we know, however, even the Saints, while living their lives on earth, were not perfect! The closest that we come to perfection is only through God’s grace and perpetual help.

      Like me, in my life. People may think, from reading this comment, that I am an excellent typist. But, I most certainly am not. I can’t type at all! These “typed” words of mine appear through the assistance of a voice to text dictation system. We may think that we are excellent at church attendance, charitable giving, etc., but, should God take his grace from us, we would see that we stumble and fall miserably.

      Good thought, thank you!

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  4. Great post, Christina. Your opening line reminded me of something C. S. Lewis wrote in a letter to Sheldon Vanauken (as reprinted in the book “A Severe Mercy”). Lewis had already gone from atheism to Christianity and corresponded with Vanauken who was still on the fence. Here is part of what he wrote:

    “What I think one can say with certainty is this: the notion that everyone would like Christianity to be true, and that therefore all atheists are brave men who have accepted the defeat of all their deepest desires, is simply impudent nonsense. Do you think people like Stalin, Hitler, Haldane, Stapledon (a corking good writer, by the way) would be pleased on waking up one morning to find that they were not their own masters, that they had a Master and a Judge, that there was nothing even in the deepest recesses of their thoughts about which they could say to Him ‘Keep out! Private. This is my business’? Do you? Rats! Their first reaction would be (as mine was) rage and terror. And I v. much doubt whether even you would find it simply pleasant. Isn’t the truth this: that it would gratify some of our desires (ones we feel in fact pretty seldom) and outrage a good many others?”

    Christianity isn’t true because we want or need it to be true but because it IS true. Sometimes it comforts us, sometimes it challenges us in ways that are uncomfortable. But always we are fed, even in the darkest of dark nights.

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    • Yes! We often know that we are striking authentic Christianity when it makes us uncomfortable. “I have to forgive THAT person?” “God wants me to help HIM?” And I myself had a very hard time relinquishing control to God! These words of CS Lewis that you share sound familiar – I think he may have written something similar in Surprised by Joy?

      I do thoroughly appreciate and enjoy CS Lewis. Now I’m going to have to look up the book, A Severe Mercy. I like the title already!

      Thank you for reflecting with me, Mary!
      Pax Christi
      Christina

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