From St. Bernard's Writings.

"LET nothing hinder thee from praying always."

"Before prayer prepare thy soul, and be not as a man that tempteth God." --- Ecclesiasticus xviii. 22, 23.

"Pray without ceasing."
--- 1 Thess. v. 17.

"We ought always to pray and not to faint."
--- St. Luke xviii. 1.

"Watch ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."
--- St. Matt. xxvi. 41.
"Amen, amen, I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you. Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full."
--- St. John xvi. 23, 24.

"He who does not pray is not a Christian: he who prays badly is not a good Christian." The more we pray, so much the more profitable and efficacious with regard to our salvation becomes our prayer: and the Lord says in the Gospel: "All things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
--- St. Matt. xxi. 22. And the Apostle Paul exhorts us all to "pray without ceasing." --- 1 Thess. v. 17. [1]

And St. James says: "The continual prayer of a just man availeth much."
--- v. 16. Christian, before prayer, prepare thy soul and be not as a man that tempteth God. --- Ecclesiasticus xviii. 23. Before prayer prepare thyself, and in thy prayer disclose the interior recesses of thy heart, its occupations, disturbances, desires, that thou mayst obtain grace from God. Pray, therefore, when nothing disturbs thy heart, when it is quite free from every vain and sordid thought or care. For, in very truth, the Judge will be moved to grant the prayer, when the sinner, acknowledging his great guilt, turns from his wicked courses to amendment. But "prayer is an affair of the heart, not of the lips." [2] It is far better to pray quietly in the heart, than with mere words without attention to their import. That prayer is pure into which no wandering thoughts foreign to the subject are admitted.
But that heart is far removed from God which, when at prayer, busies itself with earthly thoughts and objects. There is also another obstacle to prevent prayer from being heard: it is when the prayer proceeds from a heart still in sin, and which has not forgiven a person by whom one has been offended. Then only is our prayer heavenly, then only does God look down on it with favor, when no earthly objects or thoughts are mixed up with it.
By prayer man invokes, the Holy Ghost to dwell in his heart, to enlighten his interior, to penetrate the innermost recesses of his soul, and by means of this enlightenment to banish all temptations of the enemy. He who has been injured will not neglect to pray for the injurer, lest he should sin against the command of God, who calls to us: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you."
--- St. Luke vi. 27, 28. For as a wound from a spear cannot be healed before the spear is withdrawn, even so his prayer is profitless who cherishes hatred in his heart. He also is culpable who lifts up his hands to pray while he proudly boasts of his works: and haughty as the Pharisee in the Temple, seems to praise his own good actions more than God. --- St. Luke xviii. 11, 12. Therefore, dear Christian! pray to God day and night, without fail; pray much; let prayer be your constant weapon; watch and pray: pray and watch! Constant prayer overcomes the assaults of the Evil One. Prayer is the most excellent shield against the temptations of the enemy; it puts to flight the unclean spirit, the enemy of souls. Therefore, dear Christian, let your prayer rise in purity to Heaven; pray for the good and God-fearing that they may persevere in the right path: pray for the Godless that they may change from evil to good: pray for thy friends; pray for thy enemies; pray for all the living, and for the faithful deceased. "Let thy prayer be directed as incense in the sight of God: the lifting-up of hands as an evening sacrifice." [3] --- Psalm 140-2.

"Every breath should be a prayer and a sigh to God in Heaven. He who loves God soon learns to sigh and to pray to Him; soon learns to converse with Him. This exaltation of the mind comes from the Holy Ghost. It is the language of holy love, which is well known to the God of holy love. We willingly reflect on what we love, and it is the surest proof that we do not love God when we do not let our thoughts dwell upon Him, when we do not willingly converse with Him, i. e., when we do not pray to Him."
--- Jos. Crasset.

" 'Prayer' has ever been the gate or entrance to all the great graces which the Lord bas conferred upon us. If this door is closed, I do not know after what manner God could so adapt Himself as to cause His grace to come to us, for should He desire to enter a soul, to delight and console it, He could in that case find no entrance, because He wishes to find the soul solitary, and pure, and desirous of such consolation. Nevertheless, we desire that God should come to us and impart His many graces."
--- St. Theresa.

"It is with much reason, that God complains of those who do not pray, do not invoke Him, and in this way close His hands, which are ever ready to open themselves to come to their help."
--- St. Bernard.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God."

Rom. xv. 30.

Ah! had I but a strong faith, did I but love Thee with my whole heart, O Lord! then holy prayer would become my most delightful exercise. What can be more charming than to tarry in Thy presence, oh, my God! in all humility and love, to speak to Thee, to learn through Thine inspirations, and like a child confidingly to entertain one's self with an ever-kind Father?
--- M. l' Abbe Laussause.

St. Nilus, who in the solitude of the desert experienced what it was to pray, says in his treatise on prayer:

"Dost thou desire to pray well? Deny thyself at every hour of thy life. When thou art patient in suffering, then wilt thou be joyful at prayer. Dost thou love God? Then hast thou learnt the great art of prayer; and if thou prayest aright, thou wilt love God still more and more. As sight is the most perfect of the senses, so is prayer the most Divine of the virtues. If in prayer thou attainest to a joy which surpasses all joys, then hast thou realized true prayer."

"Come, let us adore and fall down and weep before the Lord Who made us. For He is the Lord our God, and we are His people and the sheep of His pasture."
--- Ps. xciv. 6,7.

1. Never desist from prayer! Pray without intermission! Every morning and evening inhale the Divine air of life, of reconciliation. Say your morning and evening prayers: for prayer (devotion) is to the soul what food and drink are to the body: nay, it is more, it is the breath, therefore the life of the soul! Pray then with fervor: pray earnestly, ardently, to the loving, atoning, faithful and true God; pray to the living Truth, to Him who is the Eternal Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
  2. Let not your prayer be a work of the lips, neither mechanical nor task-work: for prayer is and must ever be the work of the soul, the work of the heart's deepest emotion! "Much love," says St. Augustine, " but but not many words, when thou prayest."
3. The prayer of the true Christian is all-powerful. The force of true, genuine, believing prayer is extraordinary, is infinite, and through prayer we may work miracles. The whole life of a Christian must be prayer. But he who prays must also keep watch; for when asleep no one prays, no one can pray: therefore, watch and pray, pray and watch: the one is not possible without the other! From the spirit of prayer the Saints derived all their light, all their power. Prayer was the source of all those blessings which Heaven poured upon earth through their instrumentality; and also was the means by which their own souls acquired a truly angelic purity. This spirit, says St. John of Damascus, is nourished by seclusion; which in a certain sense may be considered as the mother of purity. This wonderful transformation thus operated in our hearts by prayer is occasioned by God Himself, Who reveals His glory to the interior of our heart. And in point of fact, when every avenue of our senses is closed against creatures, when God dwells in us, and we in Him, when we, standing far away from the rush and bustle of the world, give our whole attention to our interior, and learn to know ourselves as we really are; we shall then be in a condition to contemplate the kingdom of God which is within us, established therein by love and that burning desire which consumes the remainder of earthly inclinations: for the kingdom of Heaven, or rather the Lord of Heaven, is within us, as we are assured by Jesus Christ. Every prayer which rises to Heaven through the spirit of God, expressing itself in voiceless sighs, purifies the inclinations of our hearts, hallows the soul, adorns it with a peculiar heavenly beauty, and enriches it with the most precious gifts of grace, on which account it is that Jesus Christ has so urgently recommended prayer, with which He Himself commenced His most holy Incarnation, and with which He ended His life as He breathed His last sigh upon the Cross. Happy are they who take delight in prayer! They belong to the number of the Elect, because they follow in the footsteps of those who are already crowned in the heavenly Fatherland! "Let us then be also constant in prayer and watching in thanksgiving."
--- Col. iv. 2. "We must always pray, and never faint." --- St. Luke xviii. 1. "Yes, day and night let us fervently pray to God," --- 1 Thess. iii. 10, that He may vouchsafe to lend a fatherly ear to our petitions, and grant us what ask of Him!


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