PRAYER: Chapter XIX (short text), by Julian of Norwich

Chapter XIX (short text) Julian of Norwich

From Showings

After this our Lord revealed to me about prayers.  I saw two conditions in those who pray, according to what I have felt myself.  One is that they will not pray for anything at all but for the thing which is God’s will and to his glory; another is that they apply themselves always and with all their might to entreat the thing which is his will and to his glory.  And that is what I have understood from the teaching of Holy Church; for this is what our Lord too taught me now, to accept faith, hope, and love as gifts from God, and for us to preserve ourselves in them to the end of life.  For this we say the Our Father, Hail Mary, I Believe, with such devotion as God will give us.  And so we pray for all our fellow Christians, and for every kind of person as God wishes, for it is our wish that every kind of man and woman might be in the same state of virtue and grace as we ought to wish for ourselves.  But still in all this, often our trust is not complete, for we are not certain that almighty God hears us, because of our unworthiness, it seems to us, and because we are feeling nothing at all; for often we are as barren and dry after our prayers as we were before.  And thus when we feel so, it is our folly which is the cause of our weakness, for I have experienced this in myself.  And our Lord brought all this suddenly to my mind, and gave me great strength and vitality to combat this kind of weakness in praying, and said: I am the foundation of your beseeching.  First, it is my will that you should have it, and then I make you to wish it, and then I make you beseech it.  And if you beseech, how could it be that you would not have what you beseech?  And so in the first reason and in the three that follow it our Lord revealed a great strengthening.

Firstly, where he says: If you beseech, he shows his great delight, and the everlasting reward that he will give us for our beseeching.  And in the second reason, where he says: How could it be that you would not have what you beseech? he conveys a serious rebuke, because we have not the firm trust which we need.  So our Lord wants us both to pray and to trust, for the reasons I have repeated were given to strengthen us against weakness in our prayers.  For it is God’s will that we pray, and he moves us to do so in these words I have told, for he wants us to be certain that our prayers are answered, because prayer pleases God.  Prayers make a praying man pleased with himself, and make the man serious and humble who before this was contending and striving against himself.  Prayer unites the soul to God, for although the soul may always be like God in nature and substance, it is often unlike him in condition, through human sin.  Prayer makes the soul like God when the soul wills as God wills; then it is like God in condition, as it is in nature.  And so he teaches us to pray and to have firm trust that we shall have what we pray for, because everything which is done would be done, even though we had never prayed for it.  But God’s love is so great that he regards us as partners in his good work; and so he moves us to pray for what it pleases him to do, for whatever prayer or good desire comes to us by his gift he will repay us for, and give us eternal reward.  And this was revealed to me when he said: If you beseech it.

In this saying God showed me his great pleasure and great delight, as though he were much beholden to us for each good deed that we do, even though it is he who does it.  Therefore we pray much that he may do what is pleasing to him, as if he were to say: How could you please me more than by entreating me, earnestly, wisely, sincerely, to do the thing that is my will?  And so prayer makes harmony between God and man’s soul, because when man is at ease with God he does not need to pray, but to contemplate reverently what God says.  For in all the time when this was revealed to me, I was not moved to pray, but always to keep this good in my mind for my strength, 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 are failing, and for the strengthening of ourselves, to Jesus.  For when a soul is tempted, troubled and left to itself in its unrest, that is the time for it to pray and to make itself simple and obedient to God.  Unless the soul be obedient, no kind of prayer makes God supple to it; for God’s love does not change, but during the time that a man is in sin he is so weak, so foolish, so unloving that he can love neither God nor himself.

His greatest harm is his blindness, because he cannot see all this.  Then almighty God’s perfect love, which never changes, gives him sight of himself; and then he believes that God may be angry with him because of his sin.  And then he is moved to contrition, and through confession and other good deeds to appease God’s anger, till he finds rest of soul and ease of conscience; and then it seems to him that God has forgiven his sins, and this is true.  And then it seems to the soul that God has been moved to look upon it, as though it had been in pain or in prison, saying: I am glad that you have found rest, for I have always loved you and I love you now, and you love me.  And so with prayers, as I have said, and with other good works that Holy Church teaches us to practice, the soul is united to God.

1 Comment on PRAYER: Chapter XIX (short text), by Julian of Norwich

  1. Fabulous.

    “And our Lord brought all this suddenly to my mind, and gave me great strength and vitality to combat this kind of weakness in praying, and said: I am the foundation of your beseeching.”

    This says it all. God beseeches Himself, and who else could there be? .


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