The missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle draws attention to itself not because it is there, but because it is not. The void itself looks for a completion of some kind; it begs to search, and it searches to find. Prayer is like that. Sometimes prayer is that wordless expression to the unknown, only knowing we are Wanting to be Heard.
In that theme, here is what Ken Gire has to say in his book, Between Heaven and Earth: Prayers and Reflections that Celebrate an Intimate God:
Prayer is nothing more than the soul’s longing for God, and the words nothing more than a child’s attempt to describe them.
We pray for reasons as slight as a sudden feeling of appreciation for a cloud that shades us from the sun to one as serious as a lingering sense of abandonment in the face of some personal tragedy.
We pray to find the part of us that is missing. Like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle that draws attention to itself by its absence.
Prayer, like curating an Art Gallery
I curate a “prayer blog” link to the page, Curriculum of the Spiritual Life, in which I regularly reference or write prayers – since, as Edith Schaeffer has noted, “prayer is as natural as breathing, as necessary as oxygen.”
Is this the experience of the modern person? Is this your experience? Or is it the experience of a deafening silence to whom you think is an unknowable God – at least, unknown to you at the moment?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his little, “Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible:”
…if we are privileged to pray along with [an experienced Christian], if he lets us accompany him on his way to God and teaches us to pray, then we are free from the agony of prayerlessness…
This agony of prayerlessness is the suffering of silence to God for which we were never intended. Neither is praying alone – at least not for long. As Bonhoeffer notes, we may be privileged to join spiritual guides who rescue us from the anguish of a silent solitude. Is this what Jesus meant when He said, “if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:19, 20).
Gire continues in this notion of the missing puzzle piece when he alludes to something innate in us:
Prayer is a cry from the bare spot of our lives, from the empty space, from the part of us that is missing. It is the wounded part seeking to be healed, the missing part seeking to be found, the now-dry clay of the sculpture seeking the hand that first touched it, first caressed it, first loved it.
I say this is innate in us, since I believe that we are created to seek the One who made us for Himself… by His good pleasure… for His great joy.
As usual, I contend there is more mystery in the puzzle of prayer than meets the eye. Clearly, there is a sense in which prayer can be taught like tying shoe laces; but there is a bigger sense that nothing comes close to comprehending prayer as if to apprehend the Living God.
Teresa of Avila understood that when she advised:
In order to make great advances in prayer, and to be able to ascend to the mansions we desire, we must remember that the business of prayer does not consist in thinking much, but in loving much. Do, therefore, whatsoever may most excite you to love.
May you do whatsoever may most excite you to love – in particular to love the One who is love, the author of love, the object and subject of love – the Lover and Redeemer of our Souls.