The Prayer of True Obedience

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

It is one of the best-known verses for Christian contemplative prayer. When we pray, first of all, we have to be still. Even when Jesus prayed, he was always alone to be still; sometimes in the early morning, sometimes in the late evening, even overnight.

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12

Jesus also advised his disciples as follows.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:6

When we pray, we have to be alone and be still. In doing and being so, we can wholeheartedly focus on God alone.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Matthew 22:37

Our prayer is not to express what we want and what we don’t want. It must be our selfless attitude loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Meister Eckhart also said as follows.

We should pray with such intensity that we want all the members of our body and all its faculties, eyes, ears, mouth, heart and all our senses to turn to this end; and we should not cease in this until we feel that we are close to being united with him who is present to us and to whom we are praying: God.

Meister Eckhart

Such prayer could be true obedience, said Meister Eckhart

In true obedience there should be no ‘I want this or that to happen’ or ‘I want this or that thing’ but only a pure going out of what is our own. And therefore in the very best kind of prayer that we can pray there should be no ‘give me this particular virtue or way of devotion’ or ‘yes, Lord, give me yourself or eternal life’, but rather ‘Lord, give me only what you will and do, Lord, only what you will and in the way that you will’. This kind of prayer is as far above the former as heaven is above earth.

Meister Eckhart

Such true obedient prayer of loving God is in all four Gospels, which is from the Book of Deuteronomy. It is, indeed, the first commandment. If ever we miss this, everything else is in vain.

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Luke 10:27

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Mark 12:30

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

In our prayer, all our heart, soul, mind, and strength must be exhausted for loving God. We are nothing; God is everything. Our prayer is never the mediation between our side and His side. It is His side only. It is non-dual in such a way that there is His side alone. It must be such absolute asymmetry, true obedience. In it, our earthly existence would disappear into His totality and stillness. Let me repeat Psalm 46:10.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Being still, being contemplative, we know that we are God; will be exalted from all our worldly, earthly things. We are nothing; God is everything. Thus, the Lord’s Prayer starts as follows, nothing else but His will alone.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:9-10

In this regard, the Christian traditions also teach us there are three types of prayers.

  • The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart.
  • Vocal prayer, founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ’s example of praying to his Father and teaching the Our Father to his disciples.
  • Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.
  • Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.

Starting from our vocal prayer to meditation, and eventually to contemplative prayer, we could be still and exalted from ourselves. We are nothing; God is everything. Thus, in our effort of loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, the truth is that He loves us unconditionally in our stillness, nothingness, and emptiness.

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