And thus prayer makes accord between God and man’s soul, though while man’s soul is near to God, there is no need for him to pray, but reverently to contemplate what he says. For during all the time of my showing, I was not moved to pray, but always to have this good in mind for my comfort, that when we see God, we have what we desire, and then we do not need to pray. But when we do not see God, then we need to pray because we lack something, and to make ourselves open to Jesus; for when a soul is tempted, troubled and isolated by distress, then it is time to pray and to make oneself pliable and submissive to God. Unless we are submissive, no kind of prayer can make God bend to us, though his love is always alike; but while man is in a state of sin, he is so enfeebled, so unwise and so unloving, that he can love neither God nor himself.
-Julian of Norwich, from Revelations of Divine Love, short text, #18.
I have been slowly working my way through Dame Julian’s showings, her writings about the visions she was shown while close to death at around the age of 30. Although the language cadence is unfamiliar and challenging for a modern mind, the truth contained in her mystical visions is amazing. I always find myself rereading certain sentences or paragraphs to allow things to “sink in.” In fact, sometimes my reading of Julian is very similar to using Lectio Divina in contemplating the scriptures.
I often seek clarification of spiritual reading through prayer, and the angels come through, clarifying the “showing” God made to Julian centuries ago:
It may seem logical to you to pray when you feel that you lack something, but that’s not what this passage is about. God spoke to and through Julian to say that it is when one feels least spiritual, least close to God, that prayer is most needed. When one feels troubled, when one feels alone, it is natural to reach out to God. God wishes you to know that He is always present and always available, but just as clouds move between the sun and the earth on a cloudy day, one can have clouds in one’s thoughts, words and deeds that obscure God’s presence.
Surrender is a more modern word for being pliable and submissive. Often the human ego wants to micromanage things—I want this, I want this at this time, I want this in this particular way… but the human ego errs. If you focus on the substance of what you want, God will take care of the details. In this way, surrender occurs. Do you really know all there is to know about all the influences forming in your life? God sees all, and by surrendering and saying “I seem to have made a mess again trying to run my own life-please come back to the center of my life. Please help arrange what I want in my life in a much more effective way than I can,” you can realign your life’s schedule with God’s schedule, realign your agenda with God’s agenda.
You may have heard the admonition “this or something better, Lord” in prayer. There is often something much better than what you think you want, that God knows about…. It is a wise way to pray, to allow for God to bless you even more than you can imagine.
Then when you are realigned with God’s presence, when you feel God, remember that Julian said “while man’s soul is near to God, there is no need for him to pray, but reverently to contemplate what he says.” What He says—what God says…. There is speaking and listening in a conversation. Remember the importance of LISTENING as well as praying…. There are many of us angelic messengers who are ignored—please help us serve our Creator by being in closer relationship with you, by listening with your heart for guidance. Pray your way back on track in alignment with God's plan, then listen for guidance to stay on track. Thus you constantly return to God’s embrace—and live a richer, more fulfilling life as God intended.
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