Clinging: The Experience of Prayer, by Emilie Griffin

This is an incredible little book. Weighing in at only 72 pages, it might not seem worth your while, but it most definitely is, especially if you are interested in developing a deeper, more intimate prayer life.

This is not a theology book, nor is it a technical kind of “how to pray” book. This is a book about doing exactly what the title says: Clinging. Clinging to what or who, you ask? Clinging to God/Jesus. Clinging to our Father like there is no one or nothing else that can help us.

I was immediately captivated in the first page of the forward when Ms. Griffin says, citing William Johnston, “the mystic must cling to God (‘for God is his truest being’), but need not cling to views and ideas about God.” Earlier in the forward, she says, “As for ‘clinging,’ I have consciously chosen an image of attachment to God, in hopes of conveying our dependency on him.” And truthfully clinging to God will detach us from “false dependencies that bind us hand and foot.”

There are seven chapters, each describing an aspect of prayer. The first, rightfully so, is called “Beginning.” Again, I was captivated by the first few lines. “There is a moment between intending to pray and actually praying that is as dark as any moment in our lives. It is the split second between thinking about prayer and really praying. For some of us, this split second may last for decades.”

That still gives me goosebumps, for it is truth. Beginning is the hardest part of prayer, isn’t it? We think about it, we plan for it, we commit that we will do it, and then we do almost anything else to keep from actually starting it.

The book works through other aspects, such as yielding and transparency, then concludes with the final chapter, “Clinging.” This paragraph sums it all up quite well.

“We must cling to the one reality that does not crumple. The one rock that will not be washed loose in the tide and onslaught of anything. We must cling to the one reality that will hold firm, though the earth be destroyed and the mountains flung into the sea and the sun put out. We must cling to the One who holds eternity in his hand, who will not perish in the end, and who has power to save us, too. The One who knew us before we existed, in whose thought and by whose hand we exist from moment to moment. He chose and shaped us from our mother’s womb to be intimate with him. This intimacy is what we were made for. Apart from it, we feel at odds with existence and even with ourselves. Close to him, we are at peace. This is the one intimacy of which we need not be afraid, for it will not disappoint or betray us. On God we can loose all the intensity of what we are, all the passion and the longing we feel. This is the one surrender we can make in utter trust, knowing that we can rest our whole weight there and nothing will give way.”

Clinging. This is my goal in prayer and devotion. I want to cling to my Father like there is nothing else.

I will be reading this book again. I can easily see it being one of those that becomes completely worn out over time.

TTFN, y’all!

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