Pray to God in Secret

“Go into your room” (Matt. 6:6) — that is, into the most private part of your home, or rather, go into the most in­timate place in your heart. Recollect yourself completely. “Shut the door” (Matt. 6:6). Shut your senses, and let no foreign thoughts enter. “Pray in secret.” Open your heart to God alone. Let him be the keeper of your innermost sorrows.

“Do not heap up empty phrases” (Matt. 6:7). It is un­necessary to tell God your needs in lengthy speeches, for he knows all of them before you say a word. Tell him interiorly about what will profit you, and recollect your­self in God. The prayers of the pagans, who do not know God, are only a heap of senseless phrases. Say little with your lips and much in your heart. Do not multiply your thoughts, for doing so will only confuse and tire you.

Bring your attention to rest upon some important truth that captures your mind and heart. Consider, weigh, and taste it; ruminate upon it; enjoy it. Truth is the bread of the soul. You do not need to swallow each morsel whole. Nor do you need always to be passing from one truth to another. Hold on to one, embracing it until it becomes a part of you. Attach your heart to it even more than your mind. Draw forth all of its juices by pressing it with your attention.

God sees you in secret. Know that he sees into your very depths, infinitely farther than you do yourself. Make a simple, lively act of faith in his presence. Christian soul, place yourself entirely under his gaze. He is very near. He is present, for he gives being and motion to all things. Yet you must believe more; you must believe with a lively faith that he is present to you by giving you all of your good thoughts from within, as holding in his hand the source from which they come, and not only the good thoughts, but also whatever good desires, good resolutions, and ev­ery good act of the will, from its very first beginning and birth to its final perfection.

Believe, too, that he is in the souls of the just, and that he makes his dwelling there within, according to these words of the Lord: “We will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). He is there in a stable and permanent way: he makes his home there. Desire that he should be in you in this way. Offer yourself to him as his dwelling and temple.

Now come out, and with the same faith that enables you to see him within you, look upon him in Heaven, where he manifests himself to his beloved. It is there that he awaits you. Run. Fly. Break your chains; break all the bonds that tie you down to flesh and blood. O God, when shall I see you? When will I have that pure heart that enables you to be seen, in yourself, outside of yourself, ev­erywhere? O Light that enlightens the world! O Life that gives life to all the living! O Truth that feeds us all! O Good that satisfies us all! O Love that binds all together! I praise you, my heavenly Father, who sees me in secret.

Editor’s note: This article is taken from a meditation in Bp Bossuet’s Meditations for Lent, which is available from Sophia Institute Press. 

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Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627–1704) was a theologian and French bishop. With a great knowledge of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, he devoted himself to writing in a way that was approachable to every person. Though lionized by the great English converts such as Waugh, Belloc, and Knox, his writing has only recently been made available in English. His Meditations for Advent is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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