Dave Brisbin 8.30.20
I was asked this week by someone who said he always asks this question of someone he’s meeting for first time: what is the most important thing you’ve learned in life? My answer was immediate. Presence. He was surprised and said that no one has ever answered that way before. I asked how most people answered, and he said either love or virtue. My spiritual journey has been many things over the years from truth to salvation to serenity and peace to love and joy, but at this point it’s all about presence. Without presence first, we won’t find anything else along the way. Presence is the foundation and the way to love—can’t have one without the other. But then, what is the way to presence? Prayer is the way to presence, but only prayer understood in the way Jesus actually taught and lived it. Jesus tells us not to make a show, not to use words, and not even to bring our needs to the table. To retreat to a secret place both interiorly and exteriorly and connect with a Father who knows what we need before we ask.

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David in 32nd psalm tells us to find God when he may be found, which is not in the midst of a flood of thoughts and activity. Jesus tells us to pray in his name, his shema in Aramaic, which means his essence and character. The essence of Jesus and by extension, his Father, is pure presence and love. To pray from that attitude and posture is to stand before God as Elijah did—a Hebraism for prayer itself—to stand in a place of spiritual perfection experienced as lacking nothing at that moment. What do you pray for when you feel no sense of need? Presence is the definition of answered prayer as it brings us face to face with the nonverbal Answer to everything.

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