Prayer is our attachment to the utmost.
Without God in sight,
we are like the scattered rungs of a broken ladder.
To pray is to become a ladder
on which thoughts mount to God
to join the movement towards Him
which surges unnoticed
throughout the entire universe.
We do not step out of the world when we pray,
we merely see the world in a different setting.
The self is not the hub,
but the spoke of the revolving wheel.
in prayer we shgift the center of living
from self-consciousness to self-surrender.
God is the center to which asll forces tend.
He is the source,
and we are the flowing of His force,
the ebb and flow of His tides.
A J Heschel, Man's Quest for God, (Santa fe: Auroroa Press, 1998 reprint), page 7.
In one paragraph this Jewish genius has said more about prayer, God and the relation of God to each of us, than many a volume of mystical piety, practical devotion or spiritual theology. This volume of Heschel was a recent birthday gift from someone who knows well what makes me tick. Heschel is 'a theologian who speaks the heart's poetry'; in his writings I often recognise my own inarticulate longings articulated, not so as to explain them, but perhaps to explain why longing itself is a blessing.
And just in case anyone thinks Heschel was a Jewish mystic and that we live in a world of hard edged pragmatism impatient of such mystical sorties, this photo tells it different. Marching arm in arm with Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders, Heschel (second from the right), thoroughly understodd the world of politics, social action and their connectedness to justice, righteousness and obedience to God. The photo is now known as "Praying with their feet". It's a civil rights Icon, and if you look at it long enough and contemplate its meaning, like all good Icons it will draw you into the truth of what God is about.