The Importance of Mental Prayer

Father Guibert states: “Among the exercises of the life of piety, some are devoted to interior prayer, others are reserved to the recitation of forms of words. We shall deal with both. We shall begin with the exercises of mental prayer, both because they give the impulses of piety in their highest form, and because the kind of activity which they cultivate must be the very soul of vocal prayer.”

“Prayer is necessary, because it alone procures for us the good things which are needed by our moral life. . . . Vanities, pleasures and riches entice us and hold us captive; our sensualism and our pride enchain us inwardly; and, bound in this way, we cannot take our upward flight towards God. . . . In order to ascend towards God, [the soul] must have an interior energy to set it in motion and to sustain its progress. And, as it is unable of itself either to become detached or to rise, it calls for the assistance of Him towards whom it tends, and God communicates to it by His grace His own life, in order that His grace may set it at liberty and carry it along, before becoming its eternal happiness. But these are just the gifts obtained by prayer. It obtains them, because it is a humble petition as well as a generous effort. God, who resists the proud, condescends to the humble. He allows the prayer of those who humble themselves to touch His heart; to those who hunger for justice and holiness He gives Himself as food, and He does not despise the supplication of the contrite heart. Thus grace descends in abundance in answer to prayer. In man, it will not do every thing; for it is no part of the providential plan to annihilate man’s activity: God intends man to fulfil his part, and that salvation shall be his own work as well. But, without grace, man could do nothing, and could not even utter a word of prayer.”

Father Guibert states that God pours grace into the heart “like a store of mighty energies.” And it is for the receiver of such energies “to make use of them by converting them into work.” The conversion of grace into work is what happens in the act of praying.

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On the Exercises of Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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