To give oneself to God one must leave one’s own self behind. Love is ecstatic by nature: in loving strongly, one lives in the other more than in oneself. But how could we practice that ecstatic dimension of love in our prayer, even to a small degree, if for the rest of the day we seek ourselves? If we are too attached to material things, our comfort, and our vanity? If we cannot bear the slightest setback? How can we live in God if we cannot forget ourselves for the sake of our brothers and sisters?
- Time for God, p.39
We should also be aware that our whole lifestyle can favor or hinder mental prayer. How can we be recollected in God’s presence if the rest of the time we are distracted by a thousand superficial concerns and worries, if we take part in pointless gossip, if we fail to discipline our hearts and eyes and minds, so as to refrain from everything that could turn us away from what is Essential? Of course no one can live without some amusement and times of relaxation. What matters is that we be always able to return to God (since it is he who supplies the unity of our lives) and to live every moment under his eyes and in contact with him.
- Time for God, p.40
It is also very important little by little to learn to live out every part of our lives under God’s eyes, in his presence and in a sort of ongoing dialogue with him, recalling him as often as possible in the middle of our occupations and keeping him company in all we do. The more we try to do this, the easier mental prayer will become. (It’s easier to find God in times of prayer if we have never left him!)
Thus the practice of mental prayer should lead to continual prayer, not necessarily explicit, verbal prayer, but rather a constant awareness of God’s presence. Living under God’s gaze like that will set us free. Too often, when we feel other people’s eyes on us, it is because we fear their judgment or crave their admiration; and if we are always watching ourselves, that may be complacency at work—or guilt. But in learning to live under God’smerciful, loving gaze, we find only inner freedom.
- Time for God, p.41