Desert Wisdom: Praying With Tears

Bunge notes that a heart properly disposed to God will be easily moved to tears (p. 97).  There are several reasons for this.

First, tears are a sign of great love.  Remember the times when you have crossed paths with someone you deeply love.  It may have been a surprise or the result of a carefully- crafted plan.  But when you were actually in their presence—looking at them face-to-face—tears came naturally.  Similarly, our encounters with God and our remembrances of others can bring tears of joy to us.

Second, tears are a sign of intense compassion.  Bunge doesn’t mention this, but my mind went immediately to Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem.  He so wanted the people there to come to God that their refusals to do so brought him immediate tears as he stared down the mountain into the city.  Similarly, our desires for others can often move us to tears as we wrestle with the fact of their resistance.

And finally, tears are a sign of our own current experience of God.  This can be born of either joy or sorrow—celebration or contrition.  I think that these tears come most when we are caught up in moments of sacred gratitude—realizing how deeply and continuously God’s grace has come into our lives, directly through the Holy Spirit and indirectly through the Spirit’s ministry to us through others.

Sometimes the “Help, Thanks, and Wow!” (as Anne Lamott) puts it, comes lubricated with tears.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Desert Wisdom: Praying With Tears

  1. Steve, Thank you for this writing. I sent it to a dear friend who shares the gift of tears with me!

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