…Growth in Prayer and Love…
(from a March 4,1979 Conference)

It is in prayer above all that we open our hearts to the precious dew from heaven, and the better the prayer is, the more grace we receive and the greater is our growth in . . . love for God.  When we love God, we also love our neighbor with God’s love poured out into our hearts, and so our prayers for other people also open us to God’s grace.  But the first priority in our prayers is always God Himself.  We pray in order to be in touch with God.  We pray in order to be in love with God.  We pray in order to develop our interest in God until we have no other interest apart from Him and His interests.

There are many things we can talk to God about in prayer, and He does not limit us to any set topic.  He is concerned with the whole of our life and all our interests and all our activities.  He is interested in everything that He has created, so there is no possibility ever of boring God.  God loves every one of His children so much that not one of them is a bore to Him, although He knows from all eternity every word that they will ever say to Him, so we have no excuse at all for saying that we do not know what to talk to God about.  Yes, even the weather is created by God, and you can talk about the weather to Him.  You can praise Him for the sunshine and the rain, for the heat and the cold.  In fact there is a psalm which gives us inspired words for a prayer of this kind.  Never say you do not know how to pray!  If you can talk, you can pray.  If you can think, you can pray.  If you can love God, you can pray the most beautiful prayer of all.

What is the best subject of prayer?  Well, of course, in any conversation, the value of the conversation depends upon the value of what is spoken about, and prayer is conversation with God.  Obviously the best subject that exists is God Himself.  Talking to God about God is a very good prayer indeed.  As love grows, however, when we begin to talk to God about Himself, we find that before long we are not talking any more but just resting lovingly in His arms, saying nothing because nothing needs to be said.  What a lovely prayer that is.  If we can practice this kind of prayer, we shall grow in grace and love very fast, and that pearl within us will become our only possession.

When I speak about loving God alone, or seeking God alone, or having no interest but God alone, it must not be understood as meaning we lose all concern with all created things and our friends and so on.  No, we love these things more than before, but we love them in God’s love.  We love God first, and His love in us flows out to all these other concerns; so it is not wrong to talk of seeking God alone, for we seek Him in everything and in everyone.  We see His hand in all that is.  We cannot see anything without seeing God in some way, according to the enlightenment He gives us. . .

Many people who grow greatly in love for God gradually reduce their prayer to one aspiration that they use much of the time while they are with God in prayer.  Even for us, who are not very far advanced in the ways of prayer, it is a good idea to have a short, sharp expression of love for God that we can use very often during the day.  We may make up our own little prayer.  It should be very short and sharp and expressive.  When St. Thomas (the Apostle) had overcome his doubts and was full of faith, his little prayer of fire was, “My Lord and my God!”  Some people find that helpful, especially if they have been weak in faith in the past and now have grown strong in faith.  When St. Mary Magdalen had not only been forgiven but had faced the Cross and had faith in the risen Christ, her little prayer was, “Rabboni!” (“Oh my Master!”).  St. Francis of Assisi spent a whole night, we are told, simply saying, “My God and my All!”  St. Bruno, who founded the austere Carthusian Order, simply exclaimed “O Bonitas!” for he was so enthralled by love for God’s goodness that all he could say in his ecstasy was “Oh, Goodness!”

Could not you and I have some such expression, which we could use in prayer, either to utter occasionally during silent prayer, or to say with a fervent burst from the heart at odd times during the day?  Each time we use it we shall be opening our hearts wide to the dew of grace from heaven, and receive an increase in love, and make that precious pearl grow larger.

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