The Lord Jesus says: “I am the Light of the World. No follower of mine shall wander in the dark; he shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). In his book,
An Introduction to the Devout Life,
(Free Book Download)
Saint Francis de Sales articulates in clear, compelling terms the effects of prayer, and how “divine light” is a product of praying: “Prayer brings our mind into the brightness of divine light, and exposes our will to the warmth of divine love. Nothing else can so purge our mind from its ignorance, and our will from its depraved affections. It is a blessed fountain which, as it flows, revives our good desires and causes them to bring forth fruit, washes away the stains of infirmity from our soul, and calms the passions of our hearts…”
In considering these beautiful words, think of prayers as a kind of holy communion - i.e., a co-mingling of who we are in truth, with Jesus, the Lord of truth, and although there are many prayers, and many ways of praying, each persons’ experience and progress in prayer will vary because we are different. For example: the Lord’s Prayer, recited by millions of people throughout the world every day, will elicit different effects in those who pray it. Likewise, as a result of our personal relationship with Jesus, progress in prayer will vary for each us, bringing unique challenges and equally unique blessings. These peculiarities are not unlike those we face in our human relationships. Is it not true that each person is known and experienced in different ways according to the nature of the relationship one has with another person? Just so is our relationship and experience of God and our experiences in prayer.
So when you pray, do not be concerned about whether or not you’re doing it “right.” The important thing is that you’re doing it! Approach each encounter as an occasion for holy intimacy with the Lord. Leave thoughts of your accomplishments, failures, self-judgment and expectations aside, and just be there as you are, because the Lord loves you as you are. He is truly with you and wants you to receive His love. Give Him as much uninterrupted time and attention as you can, even if only a few minutes. The Lord in turn will lead you where you need to go, and in ways most benficial for you.
In the coming weeks, I will present more of Saint Francis de Sale’s guidelines on prayer. I encourage you to apply his teachings in the weeks leading up to Advent, in order to provide you with an opportunity to begin a new liturgical year refreshed and renewed in Christ – the Lord of the every season!
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