And at other times, when the heart feels dry and empty, or else is undergoing temptations, then prayer “is driven by reason and by grace to cry aloud to our Lord, remembering his blessed passion and his great goodness.” Either way, the strength of the Lord’s own word will enter into the soul, enliven the heart, begin a new spiritual work by means of grace, and enable the soul to pray more blissfully and to rejoice in him. “This is a very lovely thanking in his sight.”
Julian summarizes three aspects that should determine our understanding of prayer. The first is to know from whom and how our prayer originates. Christ made clear to Julian that he is the instigator of prayer when he said, “I am the ground of thy beseeching.” And he revealed how prayer develops because of his goodness when he said, “First, it is my will that thou have it.” The second aspect concerns the manner in which we say our prayers. Our will should always be turned entirely toward the will of the Lord, not in fear but in great enjoyment. Christ clarified this for Julian when he said: “I make thee to will it.” And the third aspect focuses on the fruit and goal of our prayer, which is “to be oned with and like our lord in everything. And to this meaning and for this end was all this lovely lesson shown. And he will help us, and he shall make it so, as he says himself. Blessed might he be!”
Additionally, Julian suggests that both our prayer and our trust should be equally “large,” which in Middle English implies generous and ample, even ambitious. “For if we do not trust as much as we pray, we do not give the fullest worship to our lord in our prayer, and also we hinder and trouble ourselves.” Julian considers that the reason we become hesitant and lacking in trust is that we think the impetus to pray is coming from ourselves instead of from Christ. If we were absolutely certain that Christ is the “ground in whom our prayer springs” and that prayer is itself “given to us by grace of his love,” then we would naturally trust that we would have “all that we desire.”
May we pray with hearts full of gratitude and joy on this Thanksgiving Day (and every day) for all the gifts and blessings we have been given, especially for our loved ones. And may we pray “mightily” for all those suffering from the effects of hunger, thirst, illness, persecution, and war in so many parts of the world. May our prayers for divine healing and for a just peace go out from our hearts to theirs as we long someday to celebrate together at the eternal banquet. Blessings to all!
Please Note: Excerpts above and my translations from the Middle English are from my book: Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Orbis Books), copyright © by Veronica Mary Rolf.