We discussed the excuses virtually all us have for not consistently engaging in the exercise of daily, intimate prayer (also known as mental prayer). We all see ourselves in one or all three of the excuses (see last post).
This is normal! We are weak, fleshly beings focused mostly on our self-love and comfort! God knows this and sends us Grace to see and accept this reality…to make us truly humble. As humility is the absolute necessary foundation of intimate prayer. One of the hardest elements of intimate prayer is the feeling that we are not accomplishing anything concrete (oh, what a huge mistake this was for me, who as a Type A planner and doer was always focused on getting more and more done!). In fact, we are stripped of our presumption as to all the great effort we are making for God in all the apostolic work we think we are accomplishing, when we fail to be directed and nourished by God in intimate prayer in ALL apostolic work and all outreach of ANY kind! We humanly think we are accomplishing great things, when in truth we are failing miserably from God’s viewpoint! But in His Divine Mercy, He rescues us from our foolishness in all our “activity”, if we have good will!
Father Jacques Philippe puts this reality starkly into focus and drills this truth into the deepest recesses of our faculties with this teaching from St. John of the Cross, a Doctor of the Church and one of the two foremost authorities in the Church on prayer:
“Let those who are fully taken up with activity, who imagine they can move the world by their preaching and their external works, reflect here for a moment; they will easily understand that they would be much more useful to the Church, and more pleasing to the Lord, not to mention the good example they would set around them, if they dedicated half the time to mental prayer, even though they may not be as advanced (in mental prayer as they would like)…If they did, they would accomplish a greater good by one single work, and with much less effort, than they now accomplish by the thousand works on which they (now) spend their lives. Mental prayer would merit them this Grace, and would obtain for them the spiritual strength which they need in order to produce such fruits. Without it, everything is merely noise; it is the hammer which falls on the anvil and wakes all the echoes in its surroundings. Such people do little more than nothing, sometimes absolutely nothing, or even do harm!”
Ouch! Do you feel the sting as I do? Oh, how foolish we have been! For the few who have been previously convicted and have been given the Grace of daily, intimate prayer, may you thank God profusely today and every day for such an extraordinary Gift! I was only recently given this Gift and consider myself a true infant, despite being in the field of outreach for all most 20 years! Do you see the Divine Mercy of God at work? God is pouring out Grace upon Grace for all those with a sliver of good will, but the time of Mercy is slowly transforming into the time of Justice. However, God wishes everyone with a sliver of good will to embrace FULLY every drop of His Divine Mercy. And so His Divine Compassion causes Him to send His Mother with the Greatest Grace in 2000 years for His children: the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary!! This Grace causes us to see where we are foolish and roots out all self-love and comfort, and to begin to really love God as He desires….and this requires daily, mental prayer…the deep, intimate prayer He desires…because He knows how good this will be for us now and for all eternity!! Oh God of Infinite Love and Mercy, we love You with Your own Love! Lord, thank you for opening the eyes of our souls!