“For 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 the desire to please God in everything.” – St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa of Avila has always been a saint that I knew of, but a not a lot about. Before this, I knew the basics; she was a carmelite nun, doctor of the church, and writer. I have read her book ‘The Interior Castle,’ and a reflection by her here and there. But other than that, St. Teresa of Avila has really been a mystery to me. I always have to laugh at God’s plans, though, because the second I started digging into the life of St. Teresa of Avila, I was struck with the realization that so much about her and her life speaks to me! She was a saint who fought for reform in the church and who loved Jesus with a level of simplicity that we should all try to imitate.
What I want to focus on in today’s study is looking through the practice of prayer through the eyes of St. Teresa of Avila. Above is a well known quote of hers about prayer and I think it gives us a new perspective on prayer; a perspective that is clear, simple, and focused on love. St. Teresa says that we should not think too much during prayer, but love much. It is so simple, but sometimes so hard to do! I have found myself on many occasions being completely lost in thought while praying. I can get so caught up in worrying if I am doing the Lord’s will or if I am missing some message that He is trying to speak to me. The root of these worries are not inherently bad, but how much more fruitful will our prayer be if we just focus on the Lord’s love?
St. Teresa spent a portion of her life not praying because she felt as though she was unworthy to pray and that she did not deserve any favors from the Lord. But her thoughts on prayer were transformed once she started to focus on the idea of love. Think about someone you truly love and ask yourself; when you spend time with them are you seeking to gain something or are you spending time with them simply because you love them? Why can’t this be how we approach our time with the Lord? I think that if we truly learned to love the Lord in a pure and holy way we would stop trying to seek from the Lord and simply delight in His presence in the same way He delights in our presence. This is definitely something that is easier to say than do. It can be so much easier to talk to the Lord when we need something, but that is not how we approach our relationships in life, so why should we treat our most important relationship any different? The Lord desires you simply because He loves you. Let us learn to desire the Lord simply because we love Him.
Reflect: What does your relationship and prayer with the Lord look like?
Reflect: Are you seeking something from the Lord at all times or do you have a relationship with Him primarily, and most importantly because you love Him?
Act: Give this day to the Lord out of love. Instead of asking of Him today, give your whole self to Him. Allow the Lord to work through you and in you for the glory of the Kingdom of God