Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Empty Prayer is the Best Kind

A gem from Julian of Norwich, Chapter 41:

"Our prayer makes our Lord very glad and happy. He expects it and wants to have it because it is his holy will to make us, by his grace, as like him in the way we feel as we are like him in our basic nature. Therefore he says, "Pray inwardly, from the heart, even when you have no taste for it; it is good for you - yes, even when you feel nothing, and see nothing, and think you just cannot do it. For in those dry, empty, sick and weak times your prayer is most pleasing to me, though you think it has added little enough to your life. This is true for all your believing prayer.

...God accepts the good intentions and effort of his servants - regardless of our feelings."

How true it is that we often come to prayer reluctant, or distracted, or without feeling much of anything. We do not often see the fruit of our prayers in a tangible way. But if we persevere in prayer then surely one day we will come before the Lord as in the parable of the Last Judgment , and he will remind us of the many occasions we have spent with Him. We might say, 'When, Lord, did I spend so much time with you?' And he will say, 'All those times you gave yourself to me in prayer, though you thought it a waste of time and came away from it feeling no closer to me than before you prayed. But I was listening to you, and speaking to you.' Likewise, if we fail to persevere in prayer, the Lord will say to us that he does not know us. To our remonstrance that we have led a good Christian life, he will reply, 'There were many opportunities for you you to spend time with me in conversation, and every time you told yourself that there were other things to do, that I would understand, that there would be time later. As I result you were a stranger who never let me come to know you.' May we be able to look back and say that we did indeed give time to God, that we were friends of God.

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