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“Prayer uniteth the soul to God”
PRAYER oneth the soul to God. For though the soul be ever like to God in kind and substance, restored by grace, it is often unlike in condition, by sin on man’s part. Then is prayer a witness that the soul willeth as God willeth; and it comforteth the conscience and enableth man to grace. And thus He teacheth us to pray, and mightily to trust that we shall have it. For He beholdeth us in love and would make us partners of His good deed, and therefore He stirreth us to pray for that which it pleaseth him to do. For which prayer and good will, that we have of His gift, He will reward us and give us endless meed.
And this was shewed in this word: And thou beseechest it. In this word God shewed so great pleasance and so great content, as though He were much beholden to us for every good deed that we do (and yet it is He that doeth it) because that we beseech Him mightily to do all things that seem to Him good: as if He said: What might then please me more than to beseech me, mightily, wisely, and earnestly, to do that thing that I shall do?
And thus the soul by prayer accordeth to God.
But when our courteous Lord of His grace sheweth Himself to our soul, we have that [which] we desire. And then we see not, for the time, what we should more pray, but all our intent with all our might is set wholly to the beholding of Him. And this is an high unperceivable prayer, as to my sight: for all the cause wherefor we pray it, it is oned into the sight and beholding of 89 Him to whom we pray; marvellously enjoying with reverent dread, and with so great sweetness and delight in Him that we can pray right nought but as He stirreth us, for the time. And well I wot, the more the soul seeth of God, the more it desireth Him by His grace.
But when we see Him not so, then feel we need and cause to pray, because of failing, for enabling of our self, to Jesus. For when the soul is tempested, troubled, and left to itself by unrest, then it is time to pray, for to make itself pliable and obedient140140"supple and buxum." to God. (But the soul by no manner of prayer maketh God pliant to it: for He is ever alike in love.)
And this I saw: that what time we see needs wherefor we pray, then our good Lord followeth us, helping our desire; and when we of His special grace plainly behold Him, seeing none other needs, then we follow Him and He draweth us unto Him by love. For I saw and felt that His marvellous and plentiful Goodness fulfilleth all our powers; and therewith I saw that His continuant working in all manner of things is done so goodly, so wisely, and so mightily, that it overpasseth all our imagining, and all that we can ween and think; and then we can do no more but behold Him, enjoying, with an high, mighty desire to be all oned unto Him,—centred to His dwelling,—and enjoy in His loving and delight in His goodness.
And then shall we, with His sweet grace, in our own meek continuant prayer come unto Him now in this life by many privy touchings of sweet spiritual sights and feeling, measured to us as our simpleness may bear it. And this is wrought, and shall be, by the grace of the 90 Holy Ghost, so long till we shall die in longing, for love. And then shall we all come into our Lord, our Self clearly knowing, and God fully having; and we shall endlessly be all had in God: Him verily seeing and fully feeling, Him spiritually hearing, and Him delectably in-breathing, and [of] Him sweetly drinking.141141To express the fulness of spiritual perception the mystic seizes on all the five sense-perceptions as symbols, For the last word S. de Cressy gives again the word "smelling" (rendered here, above, by "in-breathing"). Collins reads the Brit. Mus. MS. as "following"; but the word there is "swelowyng . "=swallowing.
And then shall we see God face to face, homely and fully. The creature that is made shall see and endlessly behold God which is the Maker. For thus may no man see God and live after, that is to say, in this deadly life. But when He of His special grace will shew Himself here, He strengtheneth the creature above its self, and He measureth the Shewing, after His own will, as it is profitable for the time.91
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