You are the instrument to be tuned.
Each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer strikes as a tuning fork, calling us to resonate with the creative Word as it sounds within. The prayer is bringing finer impressions to us, and it asks us to be penetrated by and receptive to this utterly new and unfamiliar realm.
The Lord’s Prayer is the Word of God, a clear, pure, Word, unlike the words you are reading, unlike any other word, anywhere. This Word is not a sign bearing information, but a sacred, living, vibration. It is not elsewhere. We are within the Word, always, brought into being by it, held in being.
Each time the tuning fork is struck it creates an objective vibration, utterly independent of us. It continues, and resounds without distortion, without change. It cannot be impeded. We of course can be deafened–by interior noise and chatter, certainly, but even more severely hampered by the tendency to grasp the impressions just as they begin to arrive. This grasping closes us and we find ourselves immediately stranded and cut off. We are then in a dead silence, punctuated by sterile echoes from our own small mind. We lose contact.
This grasping is the result of a long-standing habit, a tendency to want to be in control, and to insist on a version of reality we think we know and expect to happen. This habit of wanting to stand on familiar ground closes us to a far more subtle and unknown realm. Resonating to the vibration of the prayer as it sounds within is utterly different from regarding the prayer as an activity we undertake. Our initiative brings us to the Lord’s Prayer but needs to surrender once we embark.
The chief obstacle, again and again, is self-reliance. There may be a sense of strain, of trying to make something happen. St. Teresa of Avila speaks of the futility of placing trust in her own efforts.
“Prayer and trust. I used indeed to pray for help. But now I see that I committed the fatal mistake of not putting my whole trust in His Majesty. I should have utterly and thoroughly distrusted, detested, and suspected myself. I sought help. I sometimes took great pains to get it. But I did not understand how little use all that is until we root out all confidence out of ourselves and place it once and forever, absolutely, in God. Those were eighteen miserable years.”
Not the work of a single day, this rooting out of our trust in ourselves and our abilities.
FINDING WHAT IS TRUSTWORTHY
Only time and repeated contact with the Lord’s Prayer makes possible the action of the prayer on us. It will of itself bring us into tune with it, bring light to our understanding, provide sudden and irrefutable insights. It is a true Word, and when we rely upon it even for a moment, obstacles are swept away.
The insights of others can open us to possibilities that are beyond our own capacities. But no one else’s insights can substitute for our own. Unless we have our own true impressions there will be no common ground where the understanding of others might correspond and take root—no matter how inspiring, no matter how true, the words of others will roll over us like water over stone.
Listening to the Lord’s Prayer—the gift to us from Christ, the Word Made Flesh—patiently and consistently, brings us without fail to what is truly firm ground. Swiss mystic Adrienne von Speyr tells us that we behold truth in the Word, and this beholding itself supports us. “God’s truth,” she writes, “is a truth which reveals, unveils, and proclaims itself… As a result, the person praying can see that he is part of a movement created, not by himself, but by truth, and that his knowledge is not imaginary, originating in himself, but comes from the Word of God.”
There inescapably will be obstacles and frustrations. “Whoever seriously undertakes the daily practice of meditation will soon discover great difficulties,” writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer. ”The only help is to faithfully and patiently begin again…” And again.
The clear, pure Word of God resounds deep within us, and no obstacle, even the most stubborn, blinkered, and blinded self-reliance, can impede it for long.