Yes why ? Since this kind of prayer can be full of traps, poverty, spiritual nights and requires time and inspiration? Other kinds of prayer might seem to us more simple, more attainable, more methodical, and more suitable with our present daily routine. Yet orison is at the heart of our call to the Beatitudes and, given every call goes with the corresponding grace, we see in it a promise from the Lord to us, a promise we have to receive humbly, as beggars would.
If one looks closer, this call to « an intimate and friendly relationship in which one converses often privately with this God from whom one knows to be loved ». (Teresa of Avila). God often mentions it in his Word and Jesus doesn’t stop inviting his friends: « When you pray, go into your room shut the door and pray to your Father who is unseen, and your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. » (Mat.6:6) Jesus
invites us to do likewise, He is requesting it from us in some way, He bore himself witness to its importance.
… God requests it from me
If God is requesting it from me, how could I not trust Him? Isn’t He my creator, who has molded me and who, alone, knows what I need most so that his creative and sanctifying work can be fully achieved in me? union with the Bridegroom. “I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go » (Book of Life n° 57). If He requests it from me, it is because He knows, as a mother does, what corresponds best to God, wanting “to raise men to a participation in the divine life,” places in us the desire to see Him face to face, so that, in this vision, our soul might be engulfed by Him who is like a consuming fire, always aspiring to greater my vital needs: In Theresa’s words: « He is the one that makes us yearn and fulfils our yearning ». Yes… after all, it is a question of burning, yearning, of love, union and thirst.
… because I am thirsting for Him
In a very dry land and burnt by the sun, in a barren and silent desert, there is nothing more excruciating than the physical experience of thirst. The people of the first alliance having experienced it too often understood that it reflected the deepest need of the human soul: a thirst for God: « My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? » (Ps.42:2). Many psalms talks to us about this, showing forth this deep need dwelling in our soul, we, who are made in the image of God, but bear this gift in vessels made of clay, with a thousand cracks… « O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts, as in a parched and weary land with no water. (Ps 63:1). But Jesus knows all this, he knows the heart of man, he has visited the deep chasm of his barrenness and he came to show us the spring: « If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink » (Jn.7:37).
Thirst urges one to walk, to look for a well or a spring – or to pray for rain. In the Bible, the well is the place where love stories are woven. From a spiritual point of view, this walk urged by thirst stimulates our will to enter into spiritual warfare, to search as the bride in the Song of Songs « him whom my soul loves » and find the well in the deepest part of ourselves, to meet the beloved, enjoy his beauty and rest in his shadow. We believe that our prayer life allows us to enter into the happiness of seeing God and, little by little, to resemble Him more. » (Book of Life n° 60)
But in fact, it is not my soul alone who thirsts for God, He also thirsts for me…
… because He thirsts for me
Yes, God thirsts for the love of every man and through Jesus he bears testimony of it, showing himself in this disarming weakness where human reasoning is all at sea. When he felt tired, didn’t he ask the Samaritan woman for water, thus showing a deeper thirst? On the cross, crowning his work of love, he whispers, as an ultimate word to mankind: « I thirst ».
Because of that, our prayer of orison becomes a mutual expectation, shared silence, loving dialogue: Thus prayer, a pure dialogue of love, takes central place in our lives, because it is the royal way that leads to the knowledge of Him who is all Love; “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (Book of life n°57). If God is love and if love is a gift, then he cannot but give Himself, and to give Himself he needs to be received, to be welcomed: “Make yourself capacity and I shall make myself a torrent” Such is His thirst: thirst for God is love. (Book of life n°57)
If God is love and if love is a gift, then he cannot but give Himself, and to give Himself he needs to be received, to be welcomed:
« Make yourself capacity and I shall make myself a torrent » Such is His thirst : thirst for the heart of man, his dwelling place, for the free assent of man’s will, of the poor and humble land of his human nature, so that he may come and dwell in it, purify it, transform it and irrigate it with his grace. Then orison becomes the place where both the desires of man and God meet for a mutual bestowal.
But this link, created in the Holy Spirit, is not closed in on itself. The water, poured into the heart of whoever makes orison, through nights and dawns, mounts and valleys (cf. St John of the Cross) even if it refreshes the soul and quenches its thirst, it is also called to become, in turn, fountain, spring meant to overflow : « Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, will never thirst ; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (Jn.4:14) .
… and the world thirsts for God
Thus we understand with Theresa of Avila that orison is also a missionary act. It doesn’t stop at a personal experience of divine intimacy, but it makes of us apostles who give what we receive as our cup overflows. We are unceasingly called to broaden the space of our tents to embrace the world « which dies of thirst beside a well ».
If it is true that « he who looks towards God will shine ». Therefore, what we live in the secret of our « inner chamber »cannot but radiate mysteriously in the heart of the Community, of the Church and the world.
The fire, the light, the living water and the love poured out by the Holy Spirit in the heart of a soul who prays, cannot but burn, radiate, irrigate and warm up.
By the disconcerting simplicity of this friendly dialogue, the world itself is lifted up to God
««Glory be to Him who never needs us to thank him, but needs to cherish us, who thirsts to love us, who asks us to hand over to him, that He may give us even more.» Saint Ephrem
At the beginning of my life in community, for a long time I made orison with teh purpose to meet Jesus, to receive and welcome within me his presence, his Word, his comfort and his peace. On some days, prayer was a source of huge graces, on others it was arid. I knew though, that it was important and bore invisible fruit. One day, I understood, that it was not only about me but that a relationship involved two people and, if I went to meet Jesus, it was not only for my own good, but also for him, because he loved me and was waiting for me…
TO GO FURTHER…
Only for today
Find the previous articles in our “Life of prayer” series.
(publication edited by brothers and sisters of the Community of the Beatitudes – © rights reserved).