St. Teresa of Avila believed that the key to mental prayer was seeing it as part of your friendship with God.
It’s relatively easy to overcomplicate mental prayer, thinking that only saints can pray to God, and not poor sinners like us.
However, that is not true at all, and St. Teresa of Avila sets the record straight.
In The Book of Her Life, she described mental prayer in simple terms as friendship with God.
[M]ental prayer is nothing else, in my opinion, but being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with Him, who we know loves us.
All of us know how to converse with a friend, as we typically talk to our friends on a daily basis.
Should we not talk to God in a similar way?
St. Teresa does admit that loving God can be difficult, because God loves us so much, and we love him so little.
Yet, we shouldn’t let our weakness discourage us. Simply put, we should strive to love God in our brokenness, seeing how much he loves us.
Now true love and lasting friendship require certain dispositions: those of our Lord we know are absolutely perfect; ours, vicious, sensual and thankless; and you cannot, therefore, bring yourselves to love Him as He loves you, because you have not the disposition to do so; and if you do not love Him yet, seeing how much it concerns you to have His friendship, and how great is His love for you, rise above that pain you feel at being much with Him who is so different from you.
We may not be the best of friends, but God is our true friend, one who is always with us no matter how weak or sinful we might be.
The next time you pray to God, talk to him as a friend and pour out your life to him, knowing that he is there and always listening.