Some Advice on Prayer from St. Teresa of Avila


“The first thing I wish to discuss, as far as my limited understanding will allow, is the nature of the essence of perfect prayer. For I have come across some people who believe that the whole thing consists in thought; and thus, if they are able to think a great deal about God, however much the effort may cost them, they immediately imagine they are spiritually minded; while, if they become distracted, and their efforts to think of good things fail, they at once become greatly discouraged and suppose themselves to be lost….But it must be realized that not everyone has by nature an imagination capable of meditating, whereas all souls are capable of love.” -St. Teresa of Avila

At least in my experience, distractions & random thoughts are pretty common when I am seeking to quietly be in the presence of God. Often times, these fade away as I find myself becoming more still. However, there are times when it seems like what I am really doing is just sitting down with a whole lot of racket in my mind! I find meditative prayer and quiet to be life-giving, liberating and at times, elusive. However, I always know if my words, actions and motivations are grounded in love. It is within my ability to know this. This, too, is prayer – loving God in and through loving our neighbor.

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