If you are stressed out or worried, try these helpful tips to pray in a state of peace.
Often our heart can be troubled by various external and internal events. This can lead to an anxious or weary soul that finds prayer difficult and taxing to undertake. During these times a soul in such a state desires peace of heart, a certain tranquility amid the craziness of life.
Father Jacques Philippe provides some powerful tips to peace in his book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart. In it, Father Philippe explains how to maintain a peace of heart that allows a soul to discover God’s will in all things and remain faithful in the midst of any trial. He begins with an analogy:
Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected. If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it …The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us.
Father Philippe explains that “God is a God of peace. He does not speak and does not operate except in peace, not in trouble and agitation … Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow Him to act and work in us.”
According to Father Philippe, the Christian soul needs to develop a habit of meditative prayer, one that focuses on gazing at Jesus in simplicity and humility, stirring within a love of God. He writes, “The heart does not awaken to confidence until it awakens to love; we need to feel the gentleness and the tenderness of the Heart of Jesus. This cannot be obtained except by the habit of meditative prayer, by this tender repose in God which is contemplative.”
St. Ignatius Loyola provides his own advice on how to begin peaceful meditative prayer, writing in his Spiritual Exercises, “A step or two before the place where I am to contemplate or meditate, I will stand for the space of an Our Father and, with my consciousness raised on high, consider how the Lord my God looks upon me. Then I will make an act of reverence or humility.” It is a simple way to begin prayer, considering the way God behold’s us and looks tenderly at us.
In this way, the focus of our prayer is no longer on the difficulties we are having, but on God himself and how he loves us.
Try that for a second.
Pause and consider how God is looking at you this very moment. His gaze pierces our heart and he invites us into his own heart. Let the love of God wash over you and see the world in his perspective.
God desires peace in our soul. It is up to us to accept that gift and let it penetrate the very fiber of our being.