How is your prayer life? How are your conversations with God? Many times we probably notice that we end up saying a checklist of prayers, or that during our time for God but we end up doing most, if not all, the talking. Silence tends to be one of the hardest things for many people in today’s world. Our days are filled with constant noise and tasks and changes bombarding our minds every minute. We find it hard to find those moments when we can be truly alone…or sometimes we tend to run away from those moments.
Silence in our life is extremely important, but it can also be extremely scary. Because silence makes you listen to all those thoughts that are deep in your heart or mind, it brings up memories or moments you struggle to deal with. Silence is when we truly can hear God’s word to us. And it scares us because we are sometimes scared of what we still need to face or what we will hear.
St.Teresa of Avila stressed the important of Mental Prayer throughout her life here on earth. She said, “we need no wings to go in search of God, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.” She describes 3 essential steps of mental prayer:
- We must be searching for God: God loves us and has placed this desire in our hearts to be connected with Him. If we truly know how much He loves us, how much He cares and longs for us. If we truly are able to connect with our own heart’s true desires, we will want to search for God, we will want to dive deeper into the longing of our heart and connect with His heart. “The important thing in mental prayer,” she says, “is not to think much but to love much.”
- We must be willing to be alone with Him: The door can only be open from our end. God cannot bestow his favours and gifts to us if we do not open the door to allow Him to do so. Remember, God is the ultimate gentleman. He will not force Himself into you heart, but instead will patiently wait and call out for you to open the door to Him. “One needs no bodily strength for mental prayer,” she wrote, “but only love and the formation of a habit.” It doesn’t take much, sometimes all you need is to start with those 5 minutes even. 5 minutes given completely to God. No expectations, just be in the moment with Him.
- We need but to look upon Our Lord who is present within us: St.Teresa stressed the simplicity of this form of prayer. Don’t over think it. She explains, “I am not asking you now to think of Him or to form numerous conceptions of Him, or to make long and subtle meditations with your understanding. I am asking only to look at Him.” Keep it simple. Sometimes you may go into different prayers of intercession or forgiveness, or sometimes you may find yourself contemplating different struggles or sufferings with God. That’s perfectly ok! But to start, simply see what it feels like just to be in His presence and feel His presence. Take a picture of Christ and just look at Him, or look at Him up at a crucifix, and just be in that moment. What does it feel like to look into His eyes and feel Him looking deeply back into yours? What does it feel like to be held by Him?
Make it a habit today to add those 5 minutes into your prayer life. 5 minutes everyday, and then slowly increase that time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc. Sometimes it’s in that very silence, that we are able to find the deepest answers to all the hard questions that cloud our minds, and that we grow deeper into our true selves and connection with God.
Don’t get discouraged if you find your mind constantly wandering. Keep putting that effort to give God that time, and your mind will start to quiet down and let your heart listen.
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