A Method for Mental Prayer
The enkindling by the Spirit of Truth
“Get lost in the eddy of contemplation.
Strive to forget that you are men and strive to change into Seraphim.
Throw yourselves into the furnace, into the flames of contemplation…
The fire that consumes the opaque and always impure matter
and transforms it into bright and pure flame is purification.”
(The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, first edition, vol. 5, p. 871.)
Many methods exist for mental prayer. This latter fosters a possible experience of divine things, a rapid advance along God’s way and a sublime penetration of the great mysteries of the faith (see Mystical Theology).
In silence, ideally in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, but that isn’t essential, start by taking a few minutes to recollect yourself as it is explained in the introductory page on mental prayer (click here).
Draw closer to God through faith and truth
Then, it is a matter of reflecting on a strong truth of the faith, such as for example: “All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mk 9:23). Moreover, have we thought of the fact that God created all the stars, the planets, the galaxies…? His power is infinite and He can do all things, absolutely everything, in favor of His children who pray to Him for good causes. No power is greater than His!
Next, request something for our spiritual welfare or that of others, such as for example:
- “My God, you who can do all things, grant me the strength to correct this or that defect.”
- “My God, you who can do all things, grant me the strength to accept this or that trial, give me the strength to embrace the cross.”
- “ My God, grant that I may belong entirely to Marie-Paule with all her humility and her purity, that I may think of her often throughout the day, that I may become like her. ”
- “My God, may your Kingdom be established over all the earth, may the world be receptive to your Love!”
Isn’t it wonderful to know that all of that will happen since God can do all things! However, there is one condition: “All things are possible to him who believes.” We must believe! In fact, Jesus said:
“You will receive all that you pray for, provided you have faith.” (Mt 21:22)
The certainty of our prayer being heard and granted, this faith, can only come from God. In the end, He is the one who places in the hearts of believers the good things to be requested and gives them the certainty that it will be granted.
The little flame
The preceding reflection based on a strong truth of the faith is represented by the little flame in the drawing below. It is like a fire being lit on a cold night, and the wood that feeds it represents the sacrifice we impose upon ourselves to engage in mental prayer. The little flame was enkindled by its contact with the Spirit of God that is TRUTH, LOVE and FIRE. We do not feel it physically, nor do we probably feel it within ourselves either, but we get a glimpse of it through pure faith at the fine point of the soul, where the eye of the soul is, because we believe in this infinitely good God who hears, sees and can do everything.
Perhaps we have the impression of wasting our time in mental prayer when we don’t feel anything special. So many things work together to extinguish the little flame.
- Our distractions are like rubbish thrown into the fire.
- Our thoughts of doubt are like a cold wind to snuff it out.
- The reminder of our wretchedness is like water thrown on the fire…
So, to protect the little budding flame, let’s draw a circle around it. The circle can be made from any kind of matter, since this is only an image to show what the soul must do within itself in order to protect the prayer it has sent up to Heaven with faith, a prayer which countless enemies will try to reduce, crush or extinguish.
The psychic world is very vast and a legion of enemies is roaming around in it. So, the little circle will be drawn by an unshakeable will to stay “glued” to the truth, not to detach ourselves from it, not to doubt because Jesus clearly said that we had to believe and not doubt in order for our prayer to be granted.
An inner pruning
Let’s pay attention to the thoughts and feelings we experience. Every thought, every feeling, every impression that is contrary to the truth set out at the beginning (“All things are possible to him who believes”) must be cast aside. We fix our attention on this truth and we try to stay “stuck” to it through acts of faith and love:
“My God, I believe!”
“My God, I believe, but increase my faith!”
“My God, I love you, but grant that I may love you ever more and more.”
We let the opposite feelings and ideas go by as we would let the clouds pass above our heads, doing the same also for distractions, for the Truth we are looking for is not to be found there. All of that must be done with suavity, for God is found in calmness.
The purpose: to always draw closer to this Truth which is, in fact, the Word of God in person (Jesus Christ).
The union with the crucified Jesus
If we have the impression that the faith required is beyond our strength – which can really be the case –, then let’s join Jesus dying on the cross and say with Him: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” by placing all judgment about ourselves in God’s hands. In those last moments of His life on earth, Jesus also felt so very far away from His Father.
In the drawing of the little flame, various inner movements are represented by arrows. Some draw us away from the little flame, while others bring us closer to it. We should note that not only the bad judgments we make concerning others, but also even the ones we make about ourselves can draw us away from the budding flame. Why?
Because God doesn’t think like we do! He is infinitely intelligent, infinitely good, merciful and powerful… If we stay stuck to our poor human judgment, on the way we judge ourselves or others, we cannot understand Him.
Here are a few examples of the judgments which draw us away from the little flame, if we don’t cast them aside or reject them:
- I’ve committed so many sins that I don’t deserve to have God hear me!
- I don’t know how to pray, so my prayer is useless!
- So-and-so did such-and-such, and that makes no sense!
- I’m wasting my time doing mental prayer as it produces nothing!
- I’m afraid of being in silence for a long time!
- I’m afraid of the cross; I’m too weak to do great things…
Yes, the list of false judgments we make about ourselves can be a long one. All of them are contrary to the truth of our baptism because Jesus made of us children of God, like himself. He gave us His own life. It is as sons or daughters of God that we enter into contact with the Father, like Jesus and Marie-Paule did when they lived on earth.
The negative judgments we make about our neighbor (his faults, his way of acting…) are also harmful to mental prayer because we can’t judge as God judges, except if He gives us supernatural lights on the subject. Thus, our human judgments draw us away from the Truth, so we must rid ourselves of them.
Let’s cast aside everything that troubles us and draws us away from Peace and Love, in order to draw closer to the Truth!
“My God, I believe, I love you; grant that I may desire you more than anything else and want to serve you alone!”
The dark zone
The darker zone around the little flame indicates that we must reach God as though through an obscure area, not seeking to understand everything with our human reason since He is beyond all of that and more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine. One way of entering into contact with Him is to think of what He is, and what He made known to us about himself through Jesus Christ and Marie-Paule, while realizing at the same time that He goes well beyond any idea we could ever have of Him. So, we are venturing into an obscure area, into “unknown country”, as though setting out on a tremendous internal adventure in search of Him who is infinite Truth and Love. Thus, He remains hidden in secrecy, and we can only enter into contact with Him through faith. Then, we will be enlightened more and more by means of supernatural lights or knowledge which comes from the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps we will come out of such a period of mental prayer realizing how simple God really is because it isn’t at all complicated to enter into contact with Him, for He is Love! Mental prayer will have freed our inner self from so many complicated things. Or perhaps, we will have the impression instead of having wasted our time, but then, we must remember that we never waste our time when in the presence of Love, and we will see its effects later. In a life of mental prayer, we must have a lot of patience. The closer we get to the Truth, the more we must also prepare to let ourselves be purified, for Truth is a tremendous fire which burns a path for itself. The spiritual life is so wonderful!
In Life of Love
This method of mental prayer is found in our Mother’s life in so many ways. But there is one way that is really important and can be found throughout her life. In 1933, God taught her, through a Sister, that sufferings save souls and that, every day, some people crucify Christ through their serious sins. She meditated upon those great truths of the faith for a few days. Then, in a moment of greater fervor, she offered herself up to suffer with her Jesus of love, accepting everything He would want of her, provided there would be more souls in His beautiful heaven. She also wanted to share in Mary’s sufferings.
Afterwards, she would not pay any attention to the doubts which would arise, knowing that God had heard her and that He can do everything. She would always remember the covenant made with Him in a moment of greater fervor, in a mysterious contact with Truth, even when she had to bear great sufferings and was tempted to think that He had forgotten or abandoned her.
The more she advanced in life, the more she was enkindled with the FIRE of God. But it all began with her life of mental prayer…
In summary, this method of mental prayer consists in casting aside any thoughts, feelings, impressions or judgments which Jesus, the King of truth and peace, and Marie-Paule, the Queen of humility and purity, would not have had, in order to establish ourselves in their life, their strength, their truth, their peace and their love.
We will train ourselves to follow them especially through periods of silence given over to mental prayer; however this embraces one’s entire life.
What is important, in the end, is a keen faith which leads us to strip ourselves of self in order to make room for Love and enable God to be glorified through us.
- The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, first edition, vol. V, p. 871.
- The Gospel according to Saint John, 8:31-36.
- Vie d'Amour Appendice V, pages 15, 63 et 64.
- Life of Love II, 245
- Book The Community of the Lady of All Peoples, pages 73 and 74, lines 43 to 48.
- The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, first edition, volumes II, III and IV of the French edition.
- The Divine Names and the Mystical Theology by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (from the 5th or 6th centuries).
- The Ascent of the Carmel by Saint John of the Cross.
- The Cloud of Unknowing by an anonymous author of the 14th century.