Christian prayer’s distinguishing characteristic is its focus on service. Enlightenment isn’t the central point. The point is intimacy with God, which spawns more effective servanthood.
Saint Thomas, the disciple of Jesus and the apostle of the early church, taught there are three vocations: There’s the active life, there’s the contemplative life, and there’s the mixture of both. He believed the best path is the mixture. The life solely focused on prayer, such as the stereotypic monastic life, is limited. The active life, solely focused on service, is also limited. The combination is dynamic and earth moving.
Activism used to be divorced from faith. Now we’re seeing more and more kinship between them. And this is good! We need a spiritual home we can return to again and again and we need a cause. May more activists find their spiritual home in Jesus’ dynamic essence and in prayer and may more Christians turn activist!
People interested in interior silence used to be separated from active ministries and family life. Now this is changing. Thomas Keating writes, “The persons I know who are most advanced in prayer are married or engaged in active ministries, running around all day to fulfill their duties” (Open Heart, Open Mind, pg. 33).