Book Notes: Beginning to Pray: Managing time

Beginning to PrayBeginning to Pray,
by Anthony Bloom

Paulist Press, 1970
Goodreads
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Managing time

Yes, we do have busy lives, but if we try to waste less time, if we use “crumbs of wasted time”, we’ll have more of it.
To pray, we can also use the times we fill in with stuff, for fear of emptiness or of being alone.

“We can control and stop time.” (p. 81)
We can truly pray, only if we are in a state of stability and inner peace, released from the sense of time running fast.

Remember: there is no need to run after time to catch it. Time runs towards you.
We often make the mistake of imagining that if we hurry, we will be in our future sooner.
This prevents us from being completely in the present moment, which is the only moment we can be in.

In an accident, you have to be so completely in the present, that all your being is summed up in the now. And you realize you are really in the now. We need to learn to do this in our daily life.
For this, we must do exercises in stopping time, in standing in the present, in this now which is our present and the intersection between eternity and time.
It’s also the point where God is, a point of total stability (p.91).

1st exercise:
When you have a few minutes, even just 3 or 5, when you have absolutely nothing to do:
sit down and say, “I am seated, I am doing nothing, I will do nothing for 5 minutes”.
Relax, be aware of being in the presence of God.
Then extend progressively the length of this exercise.

2nd exercise:
When you are doing something that you feel is useful or even essential for the world, at one point, say, “I stop.”
You can then set up at alarm, to stop and pray for 5 minutes, and keep at it until the alarm rings, but without looking at it.

Pages 89-91 are great pages showing how the disciples did exactly the opposite of that during the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Marc 4:35-41).

This point of total stability where God is does not mean nothing happens there. It’s actually the point where all the conflicting tensions meet.
Real silence is extremely intense and alive. Cf. birdwatching! (p. 91) This is contemplative preparation for contemplative silence.
Little by little, we can discover that silence is a presence.
Cf. Jean-Marie Vianney (p.94): “I look at Him, He looks at me, and we are happy.”

Begin with the silence of the lips, of body – learning to keep still.
Then of the emotions.
Then of the heart and mind.

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