"Let me start by saying that the best thing you can do when you start to pray, however long or short your time of prayer is to be, is to tell yourself, and mean it, that you are going to die at the end of your prayer. I am not joking when I tell you this: just think how impossible it is to tell yourself—or for anyone living to tell himself or herself—that you are certain of living longer than the time your prayer takes.
In about 1375 a unknown author wrote a book called The Cloud Of Unknowing. It appears to be an instructional work for a person new to a monastery. In this book he or she writes a short composition in letter form called, "The Letter On Prayer." I have copied a short excerpt of this writing to your left as translated by the people of Renovare.
In essence the writer challenges the reader to pray as if you are dying at the end of your prayer. How would you pray if you thought you may die at the end of your prayer? How would I pray?
I would think our prayer would include:
I am sure we could list other things that would change about your prayer if we thought we would die at its end. (Feel free to let me know some of your ideas.) What marvelous advice! Admittedly, as time passes and if we do not die at the end of our prayers, it may be difficult to pray with such a focus. Or, if we are just pretending and not believing it could really happen, once again our focus would be hindered.
It is interesting that you have to go back almost 650 years to discover fresh advice for our prayer life.
John Melhorn is first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ, but he is also a husband, father, and pastor. Watch out on the road, for you will often find him bicycling somewhere.