Seeking God in Prayer
Presence of God – I leave all my duties and all earthly cares, to recollect myself in the little heaven of my soul, to place myself in intimate contact with God.
“When thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret” (Mt 6:6). Exterior solitude, withdrawing physically from the noise, from the occupations and preoccupations of this world is a great means, and even, at least to a certain point, an indispensable means for leading a serious interior life.
Every Rule of religious life, even of a simple secular institute, prescribes certain hours for prayer, during which every occupation must be firmly laid aside, and one must retire into solitude in order to renew one’s spirit by means of a more direct and more intense contact with God.
Without these prayerful intervals, it is a real illusion to pretend to live a spiritual life–not only a serious one, but even the most elementary one.
Every activity, no matter how important or urgent it is, must therefore be suspended at the prescribed time, so that all the strength of the soul may be concentrated in the supreme activity of prayer. These hours are sacred. A soul consecrated to God cannot, of its own initiative, subtract even a small part of this time under pain of seeing its spiritual life weaken. The time of prayer is the time to apply Jesus’ great commandment: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33), this kingdom that we now know is within us. In order to find it, we must have these moments of retirement, solitude, total avoidance of creatures, of business and occupations. During these blessed minutes we can and should effectively “go forth” from all things and “withdraw ourselves” from all creatures to seek God hidden within us.
O my God, teach me how to seek You in prayer, to put my heart in contact with Yours, to learn how to withdraw, not only materially, but also spiritually, from all the attractions which this world offers. How many times I am kneeling, but my mind is wandering all over the world!
And You, O Blessed Trinity, are here in the depths of my soul, waiting to manifest Yourself to me in the intimacy of prayer; You are here to draw me to Your secret hiding-place, but Your efforts are of no avail because my mind remains without, still immersed in human things and preoccupations.
If, because of my natural weakness and the deficiencies of my poor human nature, I am not always able to silence my memory and imagination, it is, however, always possible for me to seek You with my heart and will, and this is exactly what You ask of me.
Make me understand that the essence of prayer does not consist in “thinking much, but in loving much” (Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle, IV, 1). Help me to set my heart free from creatures, so that in prayer I may devote it wholly to seeking and loving You alone. O Lord, strengthen my will so that it can leave all things and apply itself only to You; give me the strength to resist temptations and to continue to seek You in spite of the distressing wanderings of my thoughts, aridity, and powerlessness. “The kingdom of heaven suffered violence” (Mt 11:12); by these words You emphasize the fact, O my God, that even to attain the kingdom of heaven which is within me, in other words, to find You within me, I must do violence to myself.
When You Yourself attract me, O Lord, all difficulties disappear; but when You hide Yourself, my poor soul wanders about restlessly, not knowing where to stay, and the slightest remembrance of creatures is sufficient to distract it, O my God, deign to fix my mind and my heart on You!
“O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become entirely forgetful of self, that I may establish myself in You, as changeless and as calm as though my soul were already in eternity! May nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from You, O my immutable Lord! but may I penetrate more deeply every moment into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul, make it Your heaven, Your cherished dwelling place, Your home of rest. Let me never leave You alone, but keep me ever there, all absorbed in You, in living faith, adoring You and wholly yielded up to Your creative action!” (Elisabeth of the Trinity, Elevation to the Most Holy Trinity).
Note from Dan: This post on Seeking God in Prayer is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: Face portrait of Elisabeth of the Trinity [mirror image Portrait visage d’Elisabeth de la Trinité], Willuconquer, undated, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.