Georgia O’Keefe. An Orchid. Museum of Modern Art
Prayer is much more than words; it is being with God and the sum of our relationship with Him. Prayer is the realization of our soul’s deepest desire. The surprise is that we didn’t initiate this desire, but Love Who is waiting for love.
God created us in love with an infinite capacity for God. As we demonstrate our willingness to open our hearts to Him, increasingly He shows His love back to us. The more we come to prayer to receive the love, the more our hearts expand in their capacity to hold the love, and the more love God pours into us. In other words, the more the soul sees of God, the more it desires God, and the more God can give of Himself to the soul. It is reciprocal, and it is so sweet.
The Holy Spirit stirs up prayers in us that delight God to grant, calling us to pray for what is He is already doing! He wants us to be partners in His good work, so what could please Him more than our intense and reverent prayer? Prayer has this beginning, but it will have no end. God receives our prayer with joy. He sets it among His treasures where it will never perish.1 It will accompany us into eternity, where we will join the glorious company of heaven in love, adoration, and joy. In the book of Revelation, St. John the beloved receives the vision that our prayers are so precious to Jesus that “He will break open the seventh seal, and heaven will fall silent for half an hour. Then the eighth angel with a golden incense burner will be given a great quantity of incense to offer up, consisting of the prayers of God’s holy people. The smoke of the incense with the prayers of the holy ones will billow up before God from the hand of the angel.”2
Nevertheless, we experience periods of dryness when we feel like nothing is happening and God is hidden. We become discouraged and anxious because we have put created things and our longing for the thrill of an encounter with God ahead of the day-to-day discipline of coming to prayer to listen, discern, and obey. We have little rest because we still seek it in things that have no rest in them. We begin to think we aren’t good enough because God hasn’t revealed more to us in our prayer efforts. The ego then gets into a conversation with itself about why we aren’t good enough, why we are so anxious, why God didn’t answer our prayer, or why we haven’t had the experience another has had. That struggle uses negative energy that activates the ego, moving us far from communion with God. God is not in negativity. Dwelling in the why of our painful circumstances has crowded God out of our hearts.
It is essential to understand that our desire must be to love God rather than to amass knowledge and experiences of Him. God is not known by the mind and spiritual highs but by love. As we show Him our love, He shows His love back to us. The only necessary technique in prayer is one that turns our heart and will towards our Creator. Quietly we behold Him, always asking for a more intense desire for Him. We aren’t aware as we go along, but things happen when we persevere in this way. He alone can bring the deeper levels of our lives that we can neither see nor reach, into perfect harmony. The Great Magnet draws us into the center of the Trinity, the giving and receiving of love going on all the time between our Maker—God, our Keeper—the Holy Spirit, and our everlasting Lover—Jesus. God, Who created us in love, has recreated us in mercy. We look back and see that we have changed more deeply into Christlikeness. Now when we are with another person, it becomes in a sense a time of prayer because such a holy presence surrounds us. How could this happen any other way than with God in the depths of such a love affair?
So, simplify your prayer. Surrender to your longing for God and His for you. Learn to be at home in the darkness of not knowing. Put yourself in front of Jesus with no requests, just a quiet and living hope in His mercy and grace. Remain motionless in noble silence, not trying to reach Him with your understanding but simply turning your heart towards Him as a flower to the sun. It is all about desire and adoration, engaging with God in friendship and conversation, lost in thought, lost in mystery, lost in love and praise. This depth of relationship is not possible without prayer because it is in prayer that we begin to know God. Jesus was constantly slipping away to pray. Why? Because he knew the Father and wanted to be with Him and obey Him.
Our longing for God will never cease as long as we are in this mortal body. One day though, we will see our Divine Lover face to face in the fullness of joy and familiarity. Until that day comes, the Holy Spirit will sustain us with tender moments of heightened perception that make our hearts gasp at the wonders of the universe and the swelling of music in our souls.
So, be full of gratitude. Wing up your prayers of praise to Heaven. Take all that happens as My planning. All is well. I have all prepared in My Love. Let your heart sing.3
Now, in the twilight of my years, I feel very pressed to encourage people who are on their spiritual journey to persevere, to trust God, and not stop short of the goal—the gift of the Giver Himself, divine union. The gates of heaven are everywhere. Our part is to simply embrace and open to the new seasons of our inner and outer journey as preparation to receive this gift of Love. Divine union is for everyone, and the experiential knowledge of this Love and freedom is everything. At last, we are grasped by the hand of the Spirit and led into a wilderness free of distractions and temptations: a wilderness of trackless mystery, beauty, and sound. This is the ultimate food in the feast of our redemption—a foretaste of heaven.Betty Walthour Skinner. The Hidden Life Awakened pp205-206