SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
Consider first, that the time of Lent is not only a time for fasting and giving alms, but is also in a particular manner a time of devotion and prayer. Fasting, alms, and prayer, are three sisters, which ought to go hand in hand, and with united forces, to offer a holy violence to heaven, which is not to be taken but by violence. If, then, prayer be at all times necessary, if it be the very life of a Christian soul, it is certainly a most indispensable fact of our duty at this holy time. But what is prayer? It is a conversation with God; it is a raising up of the mind and of the heart to God; it is an address of the soul to God, in which we present him with our homage, our adoration, praise, and thanksgiving: we exercise ourselves in his presence in acts of faith, hope, and love, and we lay before him all our necessities, and those of the whole world, begging mercy, grace, and salvation at his hands. O my soul, how happy it is! how glorious, how pleasant to entertain oneself thus with thy God! Is it not in some measure anticipating the joys of heaven? For what is heaven but to be with God?
Consider 2ndly, more in particular the most excellent advantages the soul enjoys by the means of prayer. It gives her a free access whensoever she pleases to come before the throne of his divine majesty, and to make her addresses to him – any hour of the day or night – with a positive assurance from him of meeting with a favourable audience; it admits her as often as she pleases into his private closet, where she may find him all alone, and treat with him with all freedom as long as she will; and she may be assured he will never be wearied with her importunity, nor shut the door against her. Will any prince of the earth allow any thing like this even to his greatest favourite? O Christian soul, what an honour is this! And why art not thou more ambitious of it?
Consider 3rdly, how delightful prayer is to the soul that truly loveth God. The true lover finds the greatest pleasure in thinking of and speaking with the object of his love. If then, the soul truly love God, nothing will be more sweet to her than this heavenly intercourse and conversation with her sovereign good. The Saints have found it so when they have passed whole nights in prayer, and thought the time very short through the delight they found in the company of their beloved. O my soul, if thou find no such delight in prayer, see if it be not for want of love.
Conclude to embrace this heavenly exercise of prayer at all opportunities. Here is to be found thy greatest honour, interest, and pleasure, and, in a word, thy whole happiness both for time and eternity.