Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the deep places in life...

This from James Freeman Clarke's "The Christian Doctrine of Prayer"

" Experience. — Out of the Depths.
A further preparation may come to us out of the deeper experiences of life. We may pray sincerely, but superficially, from the surface rather than from the depths of the mind. We may pray from our perception of what is right and true, rather than from a deep feeling of it. But when we can say with the Psalmist, " Out of the Depths have I cried unto thee, O God !" then we have achieved also the moral preparation for prayer, the preparation of a moral experience. Then we acquire the habit of prayer out of the deep places of life, and the deep places of the heart.
There are deep places in life. For years we pass on in a circle of routine, until we reach a crisis. Sometimes years of cloudless prosperity are at once interrupted by a succession of troubles, as the smooth stream of a river ia broken by rapids and hurried suddenly down a cataract. The happy family is entered by Death, — father, mother, children, are snatched away from that loving circle. Love is disappointed, — hopes are frustrated, — prosperity ceases, — adversity comes, — sickness despoils us of our energies. In such hours we seem to descend, step by step, into still more profound depths of trial and sorrow. But from these depths the heart sees God more' clearly than from the sunny hill-tops of a happy life, — as persons can see the stars at midday from the bottom of a well. When all around us grows dark, the inward light grows stronger and clearer. When man deceives us, God is faithful. When Death approaches us outwardly, the idea of Immortal Life dawns, in pure auroral light, within the heart. In such hours we learn to pray.
But there are deeps lower than those of trouble and outward affliction, — moments in which, though no external trouble comes near us, inward joy departs. There are depths of scepticism which the soul of man has sometimes to pass, in his pilgrim's progress toward God, — depths in which we lose our faith in God, in man, in ourselves,— in which we ask for the meaning of the world, and find none, — in which all things seem full of vanity and emptiness, and we cause our heart to despair of all its labor which it takes under the sun.- Blacker than Egyptian darkness is this mental gloom, which sometimes settles, for a time, upon the purest and most aspiring minds, —
" A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
A stifled, drowsy, nnimpassioned grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief
In word, or sigh, or tear."

In this condition of scepticism, when we are like children lost in a forest, what can we do but cry to God ? This is the remedy, this the cure. It is not reasoning or argument which can help us in this disease, but Prayer. ' If we have faith enough left to cry to God, Peace and Light may then return to us."


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