Thursday, January 7, 2010

Prayer and the Principal Exercises of Piety

True prayer is only another name for the love of God. Its excellence does not consist in the multitude of our words--"for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."

The true prayer is that of the heart, and the heart prays only for what it desires. To pray, then is to desire--but to desire what God would have us desire. Those who ask for what is not from the bottom of their heart's desire are mistaken in thinking that they pray. Let them spend days in reciting prayers, in meditation, or in inciting themselves to pious exercises; they do not once pray truly if they do not really desire the things for which they ask.

Oh, how few there are who pray! For there are few who desire what is truly good! Crosses, external and internal humiliation, renouncement of our own wills, the death of self, and the establishment of God's throne upon the ruins of self love, these are [the things that are] indeed good. Not to desire these is not to pray. To desire them seriously, soberly, constantly, and with reference to all the details of life, this is true prayer. Not to desire them, and yet to suppose we pray, is an illusion like that of the wretched who dream themselves happy.


The above excerpts were taken from Francois Fénelon's "Christian Counsel on Various Matters Pertaining to the Inner Life".

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