The desert in the city

The Gospel for this coming Sunday is concerned with the disciples and prayer (Luke 11: 1-13).  Jesus, at their request, teaches them how to pray.  For two thousand years this pattern of prayer has been followed, and groups and individuals have practised the life of prayer in different situations and by different methods. Recently I have been dipping into the two books that I have by Carlo Carretto, which are about forty years old now, but have a contemporary feel, as their theme is finding the desert in the city; finding space and silence in a world of pressure and distraction.


One book is entitled, simply, “The Desert in the City”.  The blurb on the back runs:


“This book is an attempt to help those people who feel weighed down by work and other commitments, so weighed down that when faced with the demands of prayer they say: I just can’t cope with it, I haven’t the time, I hardly have time to sleep as it is.  Right.  Let’s see what we can do about it.  You can find the desert anywhere, even in the city.  It is quite possible once you know how to love…..  And remember: the desert does not mean the absence of men, it means the presence of God.”


The relationship between Jesus and his Father is important in this coming Sunday’s Gospel.  Our Lord is at prayer, then teaches his disciples what is called by some the “Our Father”, by others “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Whichever, there is the recognition of the love that creates the deep connection; that is at the heart of effective prayer: learning to love more deeply.


John Mann


The Desert in the City by Carlo Caretto was published Collins in 1979.  Letters from the Desert by Carlo Carretto was published by Darton, Longman & Todd, in 1972