1 VIDEO TRANSCRIPT Is it just me, or is it hard to pray? Beacon Publishing minutes MATTHEW KELLY: Very often when we come to prayer or when we approach spiritual situations, we're not always aware of what the goal is. The first thing we need to understand when we come to prayer is what is the objective of prayer? One of the first things we need to understand when we come to prayer is that as a human being, we're a delicate composition of body and soul that is carefully linked by the will and the intellect. If you imagine for a moment
2 that this hand is the spirit or the soul, the soul is always very, very still. We believe that God dwells within us. God dwells within the soul, which is always very, very still. Now imagine that this other hand is the conscious mind. The conscious mind is always being distracted by the things we see, the things we do, the things we hear, the things that happen around us, everything always distracting the conscious mind. The first thing we need to do when we come to prayer is to slow this down so that the two can meet. This is what we call "union with God," and this is the primary purpose of prayer. The fruits of this union with God are an increased ability to love and to be loved,
3 peace, joy, love, and laughter. These are the fruits of prayer. But too often, when we come to prayer, we rush to the back at church and we say, "Listen up, God. I want this, this, this, this, this and this. Have a good day, God. Get busy on that, and I'll see you tomorrow." We don't slow this down. We only speed this up even more. People pray like this. People pray like this every day for a month, for a year, for 10 years, for 25 years, and then at some point in their journey, they say "You know what? Prayer doesn't work. God doesn't answer my prayers, and I don't feel any more peaceful when I pray." The truth is they never slowed this down, even a little bit, to experience that union
4 with God, which is the primary focus and purpose of prayer. Now it's lovely for us to stand around here all night and talk about it. But the truth is, you only learn to ride a bicycle by riding a bicycle. You only learn to play baseball by playing baseball. You only learn to cook by cooking. You could read every book there was to read about baseball, but it wouldn't make you a great baseball player. And so it is with prayer. The only way to learn to pray is to pray and to get comfortable in that silence. But the truth is, we're not comfortable in the silence. If I stopped speaking here, after about 10 seconds, people would start to cough.
5 I saw in USA TODAY three or four years ago in a little section down in the bottom left-hand corner, where they do these little surveys, I saw this survey: "The 10 things that Americans were most uncomfortable with or most afraid of." Number one, death and dying; number two, flying; number three, public speaking; number four, spiders and snakes; number five, silence. Silence. We're afraid of silence. We're uncomfortable in the silence. Why? Let's try it this way. Is everyone familiar with da Vinci's portrait of The Last Supper? It's the one where all the people are on one side of the table. I don't know about you, but I always thought that was a little bit strange. I
6 don't know what happens at your house, but at my house, we don't do it like that. I don't know what da Vinci thought Jesus might have said that night. Maybe da Vinci, in meditating upon the scene, thought that Jesus said something like, "All right, guys, on this side of the table, we're gonna take the photo now." When da Vinci decided to paint this portrait of The Last Supper, he decided that he wanted to find 13 men that looked like what he thought Jesus and the disciples would have looked like. He began walking thought the streets of Milan where he lived at the time, searching the faces of men and looking for men that looked like what he
7 thought Jesus and the disciples would have look like. One Sunday, he was at church, and he looked up into the choir loft, and he saw a young man that looked like what he thought Jesus would have looked like. He approached the young man and explained to him what he was doing and asked him would he agree to pose while da Vinci made some sketches for his painting. The young man agreed, and he came to da Vinci's studio for three, four days while da Vinci set about beginning his famous portrait of The Last Supper. When da Vinci was finished painting the picture of Jesus, he began his search for each of the disciples, walking through the streets of Milan each day for hours
8 at a time. In seven months, he found and painted all of the 12 disciples, except one, Judas. He found a Peter, and a John, and a Matthew, but he couldn't find a man that looked like what he thought Judas would have looked like. He began walking thought the streets of Milan, 8 to 10 hours a day, obsessing, searching for a man that looked like what he thought Judas would have looked like but nothing. Finally, he set the artwork aside and began to work on other pieces. This portrait of The Last Supper remained unfinished for 11 years. Finally, da Vinci decided that he had been searching in all of the wrong places. If he was to find a man that looked like what he thought
9 Judas would have looked like, he would have to search in places where men like that congregate. At the time, there were four prisons on the outskirts of Milan, and so da Vinci resolved to visit each of the four prisons. In the third prison, he found a man that looked like what he thought Judas would have looked like. He explained to the prisoner what he was doing, and he asked the prisoner would he agree to pose for this painting. The prisoner agreed, and he was brought, under guard, from the prison, into Milan to da Vinci's studio. There, he posed for da Vinci for four days, as da Vinci set about finishing his famous portrait of The Last Supper.
10 About halfway through the fourth day, da Vinci noticed that over the days, the prisoner would look at the painting and then at da Vinci and then down at the ground, and that every time he did this, a great sadness came upon him. Finally, da Vinci became so disturbed by what he was witnessing in the prisoner that he stopped painting, and he said to the prisoner, "Is something wrong? Am I doing something to upset you?" The prisoner put his head down in his hands, and he began to weep inconsolably. When he finished crying, he looked up at da Vinci, and he said, "Master, don't you recognize me?" Da Vinci said, "I'm sorry I don't. Were you one of my students?" The prisoner said, "No, but 11 years ago,
11 I posed for you in this same painting as the person of Jesus." That's why we avoid silence because in each of us, there is a Judas and a Jesus. In each of us, there is a lesser version of ourselves and a better version of ourselves. When we come into the silence, we become intimately aware of these two realities at one time. Whenever we step into the silence, we become aware of who we are: The strengths and weaknesses, faults, failings, flaws, defects, talents, abilities, potential; but we also become aware of who we are capable of becoming. We become aware of this vision of the best version of ourselves, and in seeing those two things at one time, we're
12 automatically challenged to change, grow, develop and to become the best versions of ourselves. That s why we avoid silence, because of that challenge to change and grow; because of that invitation to transformation. That's why we fill our lives with noise. Let's face it. We wake up to clock radios. We listen to the radio while we shower. We watch television while we eat breakfast. We listen to the radio in the car on the way to work. We listen to the radio all day over the intercom. We make phone calls, we get put on hold and we listen to the radio. We got Walkmans and Discmans and cellphones and pagers and CDs and DVDs and TVs
13 and Internet. We have so much noise we can't even hear our own thoughts. What is the first thing you do when you get in the car? Turn on the radio? No. Why? Because the radio is already on. We've filled our lives with noise because silence issues the eternal challenge to become the best version of ourselves. We fill our lives with noise to avoid that challenge to grow. In rejecting that challenge to change and to grow, we reject happiness. Because as we discussed last night, this journey is life. Physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, when we're making this journey from point A to point B, when we're changing, growing, developing, becoming the best version of ourselves
14 in each of these four areas of life, we feel more fully alive. We are healthier. We are happier. We have a richer more abundant experience of life. If it doesn't exist between point A and point B, at very best, it's a waste of time, a waste of life. God's invitation ever since the beginning of time is a call to prayer. For His sake? No. To help Him? No. To make Him happy? No. He's already happy; perfectly contented. God doesn't call us to prayer to help Him. He calls us to prayer to help us. He doesn't call us to prayer to make Him happy. He calls us to prayer to allow us to share in the happiness that is life lived passionately, energetically, and enthusiastically.
15 People ask me, "Why do you pray?" Thoreau once wrote, "I went to the woods because I wanted to live life deliberately. I went to the woods because I wanted to live deeply, to suck out all the marrow of life. I went to the woods to put to route all the things that are not life because I did not want to come to die and discover that I had not lived." Yeah, I pray. Why? Because I can't live without it. I don't know how you survive out there in that crazy, noisy, busy world without that time in silence each day to get a sense of who you are and where you're going; or without that time in silence each day to get reconnected with self and reconnected with God. Pray?
16 Yeah, I pray. Why? I come to the woods of prayer because I want to live life deliberately. I look around me, and most peoples' lives are just a reaction. The doorbell rings, they react. The phone rings, they react. The cell phone rings, they react. The pager rings, they react. Their boss yells at them, they react. They re just a series of reactions. I don't want my life to be a reaction. I want my life to be an action. I come to the woods of prayer because I want to live life deliberately. I come to the woods of prayer because I want to live life deeply. I want to suck out all the marrow of life. I come to the woods of prayer to work out what is worthy of life
17 and what is a waste of life? I come to the woods of prayer to put to route all the things that are not life. I come to the woods of prayer because I don't want to come to die and discover that I haven't lived.