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OF THE PROFIT AND WORTHINESS OF PRAYER AND MEDITATION
Constant prayer helps mickle to get and hold to this stableness of mind; for if it be grounded in mind it undoes the might of fiends. Though God truly knows all things, and before we ask anything He knows perfectly what we will ask, yet we ought to pray for many causes.
Because Christ gave example to us to pray when He nighted alone on the hill in prayer. And because it is the commandment of the Apostle, Sine intermissione orate. Oportet enim orare, et non deficere. ‘Withouten ceasing pray ye. Soothly it behoves to pray, and not to fail.’
Also that we may be worthy of grace in this life, and joy in time to come: wherefore ‘Ask and ye shall receive. He that asks receives, and to the caller it shall be opened.’
Also because the angels offer our prayers to God to help their fulfillment. Truly thoughts and desires are bare and open only to God; yet angels know when saints think worthy and holy things and are inflamed greatly with the love of eternal life, by God’s showing and by the experience of their outward deeds, because they see them serve God only. Wherefore the angel said to Daniel: Vir desideriorum es. ’A man thou art of desires.’
Also because by the continuance of prayer the soul is burnt with the fire of God’s love; our Lord truly says by His prophet: Nonne verba mea quasi ignis, et quasi malleus conterens petras? ’Are not my words as burning fire, and as a mallet breaking stones?’ The psalm also says: Ignitum eloquium tuum vehementer; ’thy speech is hugely burned.’
But there are many now that forthwith cast out the word of God from the mouth and heart, not suffering it there to rest in them; and therefore they are not burnt with the heat of comfort but bide cold in sloth and negligence, even after innumerable prayers and meditation of scripture, because forsooth they neither pray nor meditate in mind; whiles others that put back all sloth are within a short while greatly burned, and in Christ’s love full strong.
Therefore it follows full well: Et servus tuus dilexit illud; that is to say: ‘And Thy servant has loved it.’ Therefore truly is he burned because Thy word, Lord, he loved; that is to say to ponder, and after it to work. Thee he has sought sooner than Thine, and has received of Thee both Thee and Thine. Others serve Thee in order to have Thine and for Thee they care little. Truly they feign they would be under Thy service, to get worldly honour and to seem glorious among men; but whiles they joy to have found a few things, they lose many; because of Thee and Thine, and themselves and theirs.
It also behoves us to pray that we may be saved; therefore James warns, saying: Orate pro invicem ut salvemini, ’Pray for yourselves, that ye be saved.’
Also that we be not made slow, and that we be continually occupied in good: therefore it is said: Vigilate et orate ne intretis in temptationem, that is to say: ‘Wake ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.’ Truly we ought ever to pray or read or meditate, with other profitable deeds, that our enemy never find us idle.
But it must be taken heed to with all busyness that we wake in prayer, that is to say not be lulled by vain thoughts that withdraw the mind and make it forget whither it is bound and alway let, if they can, to overcome the effect of devotion; the which the mind of the pray-er would perceive if he prayed with wakefulness, busyness and desire.
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