“Pursue God’s kingdom first? But what is it then that I must do? Shall I seek a job in order to do something?”
“No, you shall seek first God’s kingdom.”
“Shall I give all my possessions to the poor?”
“No, you shall first seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.”
“Shall I go out into the world like an apostle and preach the kingdom?”
“No, you shall first seek God’s kingdom.”
“But isn’t this in a sense to do nothing?”
“Yes, certainly it is, in a certain sense.”
You must, in the deepest sense, make yourself nothing, become nothing before God, and learn to keep silent. In this silence is the beginning, which is first to seek God’s kingdom.
In this way (and it is a godly way), one comes to the beginning by going, what appears to be backward. The beginning is not that which we begin with, but arrive at. One comes at it backward. The beginning is the art of becoming silent.
Man differs from the beasts in that he can speak, but in relation to God it may easily be his ruin that he is too willing to speak. In proportion as a man becomes more earnest in prayer, he has less and less to say, and in the end he is quite silent. He became silent. Indeed he became, if such a thing be possible, something still more opposed to speaking than silence is. He became a hearer. He thought that to pray was to speak. He learned that prayer is not only to keep silence, but to listen. And so it is. Prayer is not to hear ones self speak, but to arrive at silence, and continue being silent; to wait till one hears God speak.
Hence it is that the word of the Gospel, “Seek ye first God’s Kingdom,” not only says “No” to every question as to whether it is “this” or “that” that we must do, but it says, “You shall begin by praying.” Not as though prayer always begins in silence, but because when prayer really has become prayer, then it has become silence–and that is what it means to seek first God’s Kingdom
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