Prayer is most fundamentally to be an exchange of love before it is a seeking of good things from God, but for most of us praying out of such a ‘God-love’ first requires lots of asking-seeking-knocking to obtain from God that vantage.
One seminarian said to me recently (with permission to anonymously share) of what he has learned here at IPF,
This summer, beneath the layers of guilt and obligation, fear and compulsiveness, routine and rote, I discovered the prayer of the heart, where I can now just be with God and that’s more than enough. I can say now what I never before could have honestly said, ‘God, I just love being with you.’ That’s a revolution for me! But the almost greater grace of this turn is that it has spilled out into the rest of my life, and I find myself also really loving being with people in new ways. But it makes sense that it all is a package.
Now that’s the kind of priestly heart ‘after the Heart of God’ every Catholic yearns for, and the kind of spirituality that can help make a parish into a ‘school of prayer,’ as John Paul II called for in Novo Millennio Ineunte.
The seminarian’s comments reminded me of three quotes I love:
First, St. Maximus the Confessor:
The one who truly loves God is always fond of flying off to have converse with Him.
Second, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom,
When we read the Gospel and the image of Christ becomes compelling, glorious…but let me ask, do we ever say, ‘I am unworthy that He should come near me?’ Not to speak of all the occasions when we should be aware that He cannot come to us because we are not there to receive Him. We want something from Him, but not Him at all. Is that a relationship? Do we behave in that way with our friends? Do we aim at what friendship can give us or is it the friend whom we love? Is this true with regard to the Lord?
And lastly, Teresa of Avila:
…mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.