Introductory Note:

Sometimes the smallest books are among the most powerful. Emilie Griffin’s Clinging: The Experience of Prayer seems to fall into this category. It is a mere 72 pages in length—but, oh, the treasure in those pages!

This excerpt takes us right into the middle of learning to pray (again). Emilie eschews a formulaic approach and adopts instead a relational attitude: first, we must rediscover exactly to whom we are praying.

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Clinging: The Experience of Prayer

To learn to pray again I had to learn to set aside both childish and adult misconceptions in my image of God. I had to start again, from knowing him to be the God who made the universe, and made us, too; the God who overlooked our waywardness and disobedience; the God who went so far as to become what we are, to take on our humanity, in order to show us the reality of his design for us, our destiny, the overcoming power of his love. I had to use all my creative skill — a gift from him, I now remembered — to sketch an image in my mind of the real God, the living God who is and acts, who holds existence in his hand and holds us close to him.

I had to learn to see my Savior as he is: entirely man, entirely God, not one more than another, contradicting rationality by his reality: pouring himself out for us on the cross and raising us with him.

I had to learn to see my Lord acting in history and time: closer to me than my own heartbeat and as close as that to every human being; acting in me and changing me to bring me closer to my destiny; acting in others, showing himself to me through them. I had to see my Lord as present here and now and, most of all, as present in my prayer.

Yahweh is tender and compassionate,
slow to anger, most loving …
he never treats us, never punishes us,
as our guilt and our sin deserve.

(Psalm 103:8 – 9)

But what resources were given to me to do this! I had the overflowing power of the Scriptures, the riches of the church, God imaged in the Eucharist and in the saints. I had God’s image in holy people that I knew, in those I loved, and in the wonder of the creative spirit of humanity, the miracle of thought itself, the very fact of my imagination transcending place and time.

Excerpted from Clinging: The Experience of Prayer by Emilie Griffin. Eighth Day Books, Wichita, KS, 2003 (p. 17).

Photo by eduard on Unsplash

Text First Published December 2002 · Last Featured on September 2022