Franciscan theologian Ilia Delio speaks of the love of God which is at the heart of the eternal and ineffable desire to pray:
Prayer is the longing of the human heart for God. It is a yearning and desire for relationship with God, and it is God’s attention to our desire: God-in-communion with us. The great spiritual writer Augustine of Hippo [354–430] captured the longing of the human heart in the beginning of his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  We long for God because we are created by God, and this longing is both the source of our hope in God and the very thing we resist. Prayer is an awakening to the fact that the fulfillment of my life lies in God.
God delights in creation and loves each of us with a personal love. Prayer, therefore, is God’s desire to breathe in me, to be the spirit of my life, to draw me into the fullness of life. When I pray—when I breathe with God—I become part of the intimacy of God’s life. The Franciscan theologian, Saint Bonaventure [c. 1217–1274], wrote in his Soliloquy, “[God] is the One who is closer to you than you are to yourself.”  Prayer is recognizing the intimate in-dwelling of God in our lives, the One who remains faithful in love even when the world around us may fall apart. . . .
Delio writes of the risk and vulnerability that we are invited to share with God in prayer and the fruit it offers us:
To pray is to open up oneself to God who dwells within us. It means holding back nothing from God and sharing everything with God. . . . Only the grace of God can enable us to let go of our fears and allow God to be the God of our lives. True prayer is fundamental for life in God. It is that grace of conversion that opens up our hearts to realize the humble presence of God in our lives. Prayer of the heart is unceasing prayer, where God breathes in us and our hearts are turned toward God. This deepening of our lives in the divine life is the path to self-discovery. In and through prayer we discover our true selves, the self that God has created each of us to be. . . .
Life in God should be a daring adventure of love but often we settle for mediocrity. We follow the daily practice of prayer but we are unwilling or, for various reasons, unable to give ourselves totally to God. To settle on the plain of mediocrity is to settle for something less than God, which leaves our hearts restless and unfulfilled. . . . Prayer is that dynamic, life-giving relationship with God by which we grow deep in God’s Word, strong in God’s grace, and free in God’s love to dream with God the unimaginable.
 The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. John K. Ryan (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1960), 43.
 Bonaventure, “Soliloquy on the Four Spiritual Exercises,” in The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint, vol. 3, Opuscula, trans. José de Vinck (Paterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1966), 44.
Ilia Delio, Ten Evenings with God (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 2008), 15, 17.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard and Ilia Delio on the prayer of Francis and Clare.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 14 & 21 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Abel Marquez, Lady Praying, 2020 (detail), photograph, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with other images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Sometimes we don’t have the energy to climb the stairs or jump off the dock. Wherever we are in this moment: in community, in solitude, in joy, in sorrow, with motivation or with great exhaustion… God meets us here.
Story from Our Community:
After prayer and meditation, I often write to help me sort it all out. I find the practice to be very cathartic and it helps me maintain an awareness of the interconnected world. Realizing that the responsibility for my inner peace rests with me isn’t always welcomed. That forces me to surrender to a Higher Power and gives me the courage to see the shift of consciousness occurring within me.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.