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“TO PRAY” – Befreiungstheologe und Bestsellerautor Frei Betto, Sao Paulo

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To pray is to enter into harmony with God. There are many ways to do it and one cannot say that one way is better than another.


There are individual and collective prayers based on formulas or spontaneously prayed while others are sung or recited. The psalms, for example, are poetic prayers where approximately 100 express lamentation and or denunciation whereas 50 express praise. We westerners find it difficult to pray due to our rationality. We usually remain on the threshold with prayers which rely on the senses (music, dance, observing stained glass windows or landscapes, etc.) or on reason (formulas, readings, reflections, etc.).   
 
To pray is to enter into a relation of love. There are levels of depth between the faithful person and God such as occurs between two people. Some pray like a lover who says too much in the loved one™s ear. As if God were deaf and stupid. They are like those who telephone and speak so much that my mother puts the phone down, stirs the food on the stove, and returns without her absence even being noticed.

Jesus suggested that one should not multiply words. God knows our longings and needs. Jesus himself recites the gospel; he liked to remove himself to lonely places in order to pray. ”In those days he departed to the mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer to God (Lk 6:12). It is necessary to give oneself to God in prayer, allowing him to pray in us. If we resist prayer it is because, very often, we fear the demand to conversion which prayer involves. To stand before God is to stand before ourselves. When we pray we see our real image as in a mirror “ folds of selfishness, accumulated hurts and profound envy, rigid attachments stand out. Thus our tendency to neither pray nor recite prayers which would turn us inside out to our subjectivity.
The mystics, who are masters of prayer, suggest that we learn to meditate, to empty our mind of all phantasy and ideas and allow the breath of the Spirit to flow in the silence of our heart. This is an exercise taught in mystic literature. But it is necessary to set aside time for this, like Jesus did. Just as the relationship between a couple cools if there are no moments of intimacy, so faith is weakened if we do not spend time in prayer.We pray so that we can learn to love as Jesus loved. Only the strength of the Spirit dilates the heart. Therefore a life of prayer is not evaluated by the moments spent praying but by the fruits produced in daily life “ the values enumerated as beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:1-2). In other words purity of heart, detachment, hunger for justice, compassion, courage in the face of persecution etc.To pray is to allow ourselves to be loved by God. It is to allow God™s silence to resound in our spirit. It is allowing him to make his home in us. Without allowing ourselves to be like the Pharisee who believed his prayer was better than the publican™s (Lk 18:9-14). Those who pray try to act as Jesus would act, without fearing the conflicts which result from attitudes which contradict the anti values of the consumer and individualistic society in which we live.
 
To pray is to subvert oneself. Centred in God, the one who prays decentres from others and instills the joy of loving into his or her heart knowing that he or she is loved. Paraphrasing Job, before praying we knew God ”because we had heard of him. Later on, because we have experienced him. Which made Jung exclaim ”I do not believe. I know.
 
*Frei Betto is a writer,  author of ”Entre todos os homens, biografia romanceada de Jesus (Amongst All Men, a novel about the life of Jesus) (Editora  Ática).About the Author

He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.
Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union.Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government™s Zero Hunger programme.

 

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Dienstag, 25. März 2008 um 21:17 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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