Prayer Richard Foster Pg 19
Christians down through the centuries have witnessed the same experience. St John of the Cross named it ‘the dark night of the soul’. An anonymous English writer identified it as ‘the cloud of unknowing’. Jean-Pierre de Caussade called it ‘the dark night of faith’. George Fox said simply, ‘When it was day I wished for night, and when it was night I wished for day.’ 2 Be encouraged –you and I are in good company. In addition I want you to know that to be faced with the ‘withering winds of God’s hiddenness’ 3 does not mean that God is displeased with you, or that you are insensitive to the work of God’s Spirit, or that you have committed some horrendous offence against heaven, or that there is something wrong with you, or anything. Darkness is a definite experience of prayer. It is to be expected, even embraced. TAILOR-MADE JOURNEY The second thing that can be said about our experience of abandonment is that every faith journey is tailor-made. Our sense of God’s absence does not come to us in any present timetable. We cannot simply draw some universal road map that everyone will be able to follow. It is true that those in the first flush of faith are often given unusual graces of the Spirit, just as a new baby is cuddled and pampered. It is also true that some of the deepest experiences of alienation and separation from God have come to those who have travelled far into the interior realms of faith. But we can enter the bleak deserts of barrenness and the dark canyons of anguish at any number of points in our sojourn.