Blaise Pascal famously wrote: "The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of."
I tend to be someone who actively lives in my mind, in the realm of thinking and rationality. Although I am easily moved emotionally (I have cried at television commercials), my preferred sphere is the life of the mind.
And so, as a preacher, I have tended to speak to people's understanding, hoping that I would, through that portal, gain access to their hearts as well. And even though my teaching has had effect, the response has tended to be muted at best.
In the same way, my prayer life has tended to focus on thinking and speaking thoughts to God.
However, recently I have come to an existential crisis. I have realized that the life of the mind, although important and not to be ignored, is inadequate when it comes to real life transformation. As Henri Nouwen said in The Way of the Heart, "The crisis of our prayer life is that our minds may be filled with ideas of God while our hearts remain far from him. Real prayer comes from the heart" (p. 71).
Jesus spoke similar words to the Pharisees, "These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me" (Matt. 15: 8).
I realized that I felt comfortable staying in my head because I felt competent, powerful and in control. But the ways of my heart were mysterious, even mystical, and beyond my control.
The really difficult task is making that seemingly insurmountable journey (of approximately one foot) from my head to my heart. This has reinforced my determination to learn from the spiritual fathers of our faith who, practicing the spiritual disciplines, have given us tools that will help "exercise ourselves unto godliness."
Solitude. Silence. Prayer. And so much more.
Are you ready to go on a journey of the heart?