Episode 22: Praying Without Words: What To Do When You Hit The Wall

In times when language doesn't express fully your love for God, or pain, hurt or struggle, there's ways to continue praying without words.  We look at The Dark Night of the Soul, and define the "darkness" as "unknowing" instead of necessarily "scary" (like being left alone in the dark).  We look at different methods for approaching God + theology, Cataphatic & Apophatic. (The "knowing" that comes with language or the ability to describe, and the knowing that is too deep for words). 

The Dark Night of the Soul

In every developmental model that we've looked at in the past few episodes (M. Scott Peck, St. Teresa's Mansions, James Fowler's Stages of Faith), they have two similar parts:
1. The Dark Night of the Soul
2. Every pattern ends with Union with God

The Dark Night is an "Unknowing" (see Gearld May's book), as opposed to "Scary" (see the original writing from St. John of the Cross in Spanish).

You can feel alive & experience God's presence, but not know what's happening, or how to move forward.

The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth
by Gearld May

Footprints in the Sand:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:

"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:

"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

Author: Carolyn Joyce Carty
Cataphatic & Apaphatic: Attempting to Capture Truth

Cataphatic: truth that we can put language to. Apaphatic: truth that we have, without being able to fully describe it.

Our notions of love are so thread-bare compared to the reality of God's love, that all we can really say it "God is not hate."

Susette Magana