–from Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, selected by Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder (Orbis).
A person of prayer
The person who learns to pray with the heart of God has no patience for injustice anywhere. They see with the prophet’s eye. They break down national boundaries. They transcend gender roles. They have no sense of color or caste, of wealthy or poor. They see only humanity in all its glory, all its pain.
The person of prayer is not a person of private agendas. The more we become like God, the greater-hearted we become as well. We have no sense anymore of “we and they” or “them and us” or “me and mine.” Now our hearts open to take in the heart of the world.
When, in prayer, we come to discover God’s universal love we suddenly realize that God does not take sides, that we have no priority on God alone. We finally understand that the God we seek is the God of the world and so, to seek that God, we must develop hearts as big as the world ourselves.
Then, racism makes no sense and sexism is as much a sin as any other kind of discrimination, and war is blasphemy against humanity. Then we become bigger than our single nation, broader than any one religion, truly catholic—universal—in our cares and beliefs and commitments.
To develop a cosmic heart is a moment of profound transformation. We can never be the same again. We are beyond the boundaries we have created to separate the human race into my race and theirs.
Then prayer becomes truly co-creative.
Otherwise prayer is nothing more than some kind of spiritual spa designed to make me feel good. It is reduced to an exercise the intent of which is to assure me of my own value. It swaddles me in self-righteousness and self-serving. It makes God an icon, a tribal God whose concerns are no bigger than our own. Then God carries a flag, becomes a male potentate, excludes females and passes out personal gifts.
Then we make ourselves God and our God a poor, miserable creature indeed—a national patriot, maybe; a great male warrior, perhaps, but certainly not the God of all creation. Then we are simply worshipping ourselves and calling it prayer.