Of Six Things Necessary to Prayer
“These are the exercises and meditations, Christian reader, wherewith every day you may feed your soul, which if you do rightly use, you will never want matter to engage your mind devoutly. But note that meditation, if it be well performed, ought to consist of six parts; some of which go before, others follow mental prayer.
Preparation: First, before we apply ourselves to meditation, it is necessary that our mind and soul be diligently prepared for this holy exercise; as the strings of an instrument, except they be before-hand well-tuned, will never make a pleasant melody.
Reading: After preparation ought to follow the reading of some holy mystery, according to the distribution of days in the week, which in beginners is chiefly necessary, until with continual use and custom, matter of meditation offers itself unto their memories.
Meditation: [After reading follows meditation, which is sometimes of such things as can be represented to our imagination: as the life and Passion of our Blessed Savior; the final judgment; hell; and the kingdom of heaven.]
Giving Thanks: [After meditation follows giving of thanks, the occasion of which must be taken from the matter meditated upon.]
Oblation: Then insist upon the matter to be meditated upon. To meditation we must join devout and sincere giving of thanks to God for all his benefits; then a general oblation of all the life of Christ for recompense of any benefit, and our own works to the honour and glory of God.
Petition: Last of all, petition, which is chiefly called prayer, wherein we desire all things necessary for our own salvation, of our neighbors and the good of the whole church.
These six parts are required to mental prayer, which besides other commodities, minister abundant matter for meditation, seeing they set before us diverse sorts of meats, that if one will not relish our spiritual taste, we may fall upon another; if we be deficient in one, in another we may employ our minds, and kindle our devotion. But in every meditation, neither all these parts nor order is always necessary, although, as I said before, to young beginners it is, that they should have a certain method, according to which they are to guide themselves; wherefore, in that which has or shall be said, my intention is not to set down a hard rule, or immutable perpetual laws, the violating of which should be a fault; but my meaning is to introduce, and bring young beginners and novices into the right way and method of meditation; which, when they are once in use, experience, but especially the Holy Spirit, will better inform them.”
Note from Dan: This excerpt is taken from my newly published version of St. Peter of Alcántara’s great work on Prayer and Meditation entitled “Finding God Through Meditation.” If you would like a signed copy of this book (by me, not St. Peter), CLICK HERE. Your donation for the book will go to the formation of priests, religious, and the faithful poor. If you would just like to buy a copy from Emmaus Road Publishing, CLICK HERE.