On prayer, pp. 82-85 (part II)
When St. Silouan hears the account of a soldier who claims that his life was saved in a battle because he prayed, he immediately believes him. He could tell “by the attitude of his body,” that “he had been utterly wrapped up in God.”
True prayer, then, is not achieved through just the right words or posture but by our willingness to be completely “wrapped up in God” – oblivious to the world, the chores that we cram in our “to do” lists, the stories of future glory we fantasize about and the resentments and hurt feelings that dominate our thoughts.
This is why St. Silouan writes:
Uninterrupted prayer is born of love, but fault-finding, idle talk and self-indulgence are the death of prayer.
Understanding this concept, however, does not enable us to pray with our heart. Another danger awaits us.
Have you ever found yourself so eager to experience a state of ecstatic love for God that you become impatient and try to bring about the outcome on your own? Have you ever had such a yearning for total union with Him– a soul totally “wrapped up in God,” free of mundane worries and anxieties – that you “will” this state to happen, pushing yourself to feel strong emotions or mistaking sentimentality for true connection with God?
St. Silouan knows this temptation well and reminds us:
Some are there who have injured their heats in their efforts to force their minds to pray in their hearts, so much so that afterwards they were unable to say the words of their prayers with their lips either.
This is because by forcing our agenda about when to experience a prayer of the heart, we are following our own will and only listening to our own voice.
“A man is beguiled by listening to his own self…” Silouan says.
The prayer of the heart does not come about through our own will but from God when we have emptied ourselves of worldly attachments, are humble and submissive to Him.
The Lord loves us and in his mercy, he gives us prayer …God bestows His gifts on the simple, lowly and obedient soul