Steindl-Rast writes, “Play needs no purpose. That is why play can go on and on as long as players find it meaningful. After all, we do not dance in order to get somewhere. We dance around and around. A piece of music doesn’t come to an end when its purpose is accomplished. It has no purpose, strictly speaking. It is the playful unfolding of a meaning that is there in each of its movements, in every theme, every passage: a celebration of meaning.”
Likewise, I often see prayer and meditation as play. It is not such an attempt to ‘get someplace’ as it is an attempt to be present. Play can go on as Steindl-Rast says, “as long as the players find it meaningful.” That is how long prayer and meditation should last as well.
If our hearts become religious and legal then any idea of play in prayer is forbidden. May it never be with me. I would rather play around with the Lord in this sense: play needs no purpose. Neither does presence.
“When you pray, don’t be like the play-actors. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at street-corners so that people may see them at it. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get. But when you pray, go into your own room, shut your door and pray to your Father privately. Your Father who sees all private things will reward you. And when you pray don’t rattle off long prayers like the pagans who think they will be heard because they use so many words. Don’t be like them. After all, God, who is your Father, knows your needs before you ask him.” (Phillips Translation) Jesus