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A Sharp Sword
Keep your sword sharp.
Developing a prayer life can be likened to keeping a sword sharp. The metaphor works well here because there are two sides to prayer — the how and the why. And, each edge needs to be whetted on a stone.
The how: This is the actual method of prayer. If someone asked you how you pray, you’d probably give an answer reflecting the method. A good example would be reading a morning reflection.
The why: No matter what method we use, we must remember the purpose for using any method at all — to lift our minds to God and draw closer to Him.
A problem occurs when we remember one of these but not the other. Often, our prayer life becomes the process of reading a reflection — focusing on the how — and then stopping there. Not sitting with it, meditating on it in our own lives, talking to God about it, and listening to Him. Prayer becomes just a task.
And, on the flip side, if we are cognizant of the why, we can’t ignore the how and opt for nebulus half-prayer, half-mind wandering as we’re lying in bed.
So, how can we keep these two edges sharp? Recalling that there is a difference between the how and the why (but that they are united) goes a long way. But, arguably more important is spiritual reading. We’re blessed to have countless Saints who have already done it. We don’t need to always rely on ourselves — we can turn to the Saints as our spiritual masters. These men and women have gone before us, blazing a trail of tried and true methods for going deeper in prayer. And, many of them left writings for us, as a roadmap to go where they’ve gone.
If we are not sharpening the blade, it’s inevitably getting duller.