A word on praise and prayer from Moltmann’s The Source of Life:
The world is full of praise, for God is in this world. God is not far off, in the Beyond, but is himself the life in the world. Israel expresses this by saying that God’s Spirit, God’s Wisdom and God’s presence fill everything created in such a way that all things live from God and have their existence and continuance in God…So nothing is so far from God that it does not hold God ‘within itself’, as Aquinas said, and God is so cose to all things that, together with human beings, in him ‘they live and move and have their being’ (Acts 17.28).
It is only for modern men and women that the world has become dumb, for it has now come to be seen merely as material for research and technology. The modern world for its part has led to what Rachel Carson called ‘the silent spring’, and has turned the song of praise of living creation into the stillness of the dead and ravaged world. But the world is not mute. All creatures speak, even if human beings can no longer hear them. All creatures are aflame with the present glory of the Lord, and reflect his glory in a thousand different mirrors, but ‘we are blind, we have no eyes’ said Calvin, as did Francis of Assisi.
People who thank God every morning for the new day in their lives, people who praise God through their delight in existence and glorify him through their love for life, are not doing something singular. They are only doing what all creatures do, universally and unceasingly, each in its own way. With the lives they live these people are joining with cosmic resonance of God’s goodness and beauty. To pray like this means to wake up out of the mute world of modernity and turn back to the cosmic solidarity of all created being.
I love this description of prayer as waking up to the presence of God in the world, and how that inevitably leads us to a feeling of solidarity with all of creation, beloved as we all are by God our Creator. For so many people prayer is duty, obligation, even punishment for past wrongs, while it is meant to be an act which awakens your heart to God in all fullness.
I also appreciate Moltmann’s criticism of our often haughty approach to the world, treating it as some sort of pet project on which we’re calling the shots. We have made the world dumb because we so desperately want to feel smart. But there is wisdom in our return to a cooperative understanding of life, where we work in and with creation (and our fellow human beings), joining the “cosmic resonance of God’s goodness and beauty.” To pray, to live in the life of God’s Spirit, is to be awakened to this fullness and humbled by the ways we’ve attempted to silence it.