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If thou be set in temptation or tribulation, to prayer anon run. Truly if thou prayest clearly thou shalt have help. Distractions sometimes come and waverings of heart, and thoughts of divers things ravish the heart and suffer it not to stand in the praising of God. Then peradventure it were good a while to think of holiness, until the mind is more stabled, and so thy prayers are fulfilled.
Truly if any have left all worldly occupations for the love of God, and always are given to holy prayer and holy meditation, I trow that by God’s grace within a short space they shall find their heart is stabled to love and pray. They should not waver now to this and now to that, but rather abide in rest and endless peace. Full mickle it strengthens to get stableness of heart to be busy in frequent prayers, and devoutly to sing psalms. With busy prayers truly we overcome fiends, and we loosen their waitings and stirrings. They are enfeebled and as it were without strength, whiles we, strong and not overcome, bide in prayer.
Truly those men that have it in custom with long exercise to pray, sometimes find more sweetness and more fervent desire of prayer. Therefore whiles that sweetness and heat last it is good not to cease from prayers. When they cease—that often happens because of the corruptible flesh—they may turn to read holy scripture, or do some other profitable thing, that they suffer not their thought to waver from God, so that when they rise to pray again they may be quicker than they were before.
Truly then we pray well when we think of no other thing, but all our mind is dressed to heaven and our soul is enflamed with the fire of the Holy Ghost. Thus truly a marvellous plenteousness of God’s goodness is found in us; for from the innermost marrow of our hearts shall the love of God rise, and all our prayer shall be with desire and effect; so that we overrun not the words, but nearly every syllable with a great cry and desire we shall offer to our Lord. Our heart being kindled with hot fire our prayer is also kindled, and in the savour of sweetness is offered by our mouth in the sight of God, so that it is great joy to pray. For whiles in prayer a marvellous sweetness is given to the one praying, the prayer is changed to song.
Here some are reproved that rather take heed to meditation than to prayer, not knowing that God’s speech is fired; and with it the filth of sin is cleansed, and the minds of prayers are enflamed with love. They say that they will first meditate and so stable their hearts; but they are stabled the later in that they are not comforted by prayer.
Although we can not gather our hearts together as we would yet may we not leave off, but little by little we should study to grow in prayer, that at the last Jesu Christ may stable us. To which meditation helps if it pass not measure and manner.
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