Being in Love: The Practice of Christian Prayer

Being in Love: The Practice of Christian Prayer

Being in Love: The Practice of Christian Prayer

Being in Love: The Practice of Christian Prayer


In Being in Love, William Johnston addresses the question of the purpose of prayer. He shares with the reader the discovery of new ways to a prayerful life that is both meditative and active. His message is to surrender in love to God, to love God with one's own being, through prayer. Here Being in Love shows us how to pray--with heart, mind, intellect and body--as a form of communicating with God, one another, and the world around us. Johnston reveals, using his relationship with the Eastern traditions as a backdrop, the need and importance of finding stillness in our inner lives. He demonstrates in a clear and practical way, how we can make prayer a place for meditation and personal growth.


This book, written more than ten years ago, is addressed to a fictitious character whom I called Thomas. Now, in hindsight, I see that I was unconsciously imitating Luke, who wrote to Theophilus; or Dionysius, who wrote to Timothy; or the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, who wrote to his “ghostly friend in God.” I wanted to write a practical book that would guide the reader along the glorious—if painful—road of prayer with its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows, its dark nights and bright days. I wanted to lead him or her through the cloud of unknowing to the divine light and to the all-consuming fire that burns at the center of the human soul.

I have always thought that The Cloud of Unknowing is autobiographical. The anonymous author is talking about himself and his own struggles. And, in the same way, Being in Love is basically autobiographical. I tell Thomas about my own experience and my own struggles, presuming that he will walk that same path. If, as some critics have said, I have greatly emphasized the anguishing conflict, the dark night, and the existential dread, this may be because I myself had just gone through it all. I was emerging from a painful night, and the whole story rose powerfully and painfully from the pit of my belly.

At that time I read again and again The Dark Night of the Soul of St. John of the Cross. The beginning chapters of this all-time classic are frightening indeed, but one who reads to the end sees that it is a captivating love story. It describes vividly the lovesick bride stealing out into the night, wherein she is purified by suffering and by love. And at the end of her journey she falls into the tender embrace of her lover. Or, to use another metaphor, The Dark Night tells us how the damp and sodden log belches forth dirt and smoke before bursting into flame, consumed by the fire of divine love.

The title Being in Love I took from Bernard Lonergan, whose method culminates in love. One who would be authentic, Loner-

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