This prayer, this experience which begins so simply, has as its end a totally abandoned love to the Lord. Only one thing is required –Love.
As we begin, we must never be discouraged by our lack of prayer. Even in our prayerlessness we can hunger for God. If so, the hunger is itself prayer. ‘The desire for prayer,’ writes Mary Clare Vincent, ‘is prayer, the prayer of desire.’ 6 In time the desire will lead to practice, and practice will increase the desire. When we cannot pray, we let God be our prayer. Nor should we be frightened by the hardness of our heart: prayer will soften it. We give even our lack of prayer to God. An opposite but equally important counsel is to let go of trying too hard to pray. Some people work at the business of praying with such intensity that they get spiritual indigestion. There is a principle of progression in the spiritual life. We do not take occasional joggers and put them in a marathon race, and we must not do that with prayer either. The desert mothers and fathers spoke of the sin of ‘spiritual greed’, that is, wanting more of God than can be digested. If prayer is not a fixed habit with you, instead of starting with twelve hours of prayer-filled dialogue, single out a few moments and put all your energy into them. When you have had enough, tell God simply, ‘I must have a rest; I have no strength to be with you all the time.’ This, by the way, is perfectly true, and God knows that you are still not capable of bearing his company continuously. Besides, even the most spiritually advanced –perhaps especially the most spiritually advanced –need frequent times of laughter and play and good fun.