When you withdraw from the world for prayer, don’t worry about anything else on your schedule that day. For the moment, don’t think ahead. Don’t clutter the time. Don’t plan your future. Reject all thoughts, good or bad. And unless you really feel the need, don’t pray out loud. However, if you must say something, don’t analyze how few or how many words you use or what they mean or even what kind they are, such as set liturgical prayer, psalm, hymn, antiphon, or any other kind. Don’t pay attention to the wordless, interior nature of your prayer or to its being vocalized and heard and also don’t scrutinize the specific or general nature of your intercession.
Empty your mind of everything except a naked intent reaching out to God. Don’t clothe this with thoughts of who God is or what he has created. Just be aware that he is as he is. Let him be himself, please. Don’t force God into any other shape. Don’t let your mazelike mind probe him. Trust that God is God, and let that faith be your foundation.
By grounding this naked intent in faith, you reduce your consciousness and emotions to nothing but a simple recognition and a blind embracing of your own being. It’s as if you’re saying to God: “I offer myself to you, Lord, without analyzing anything about you. I’m accepting you as your are, nothing added.”
That humble, intellectual darkness must be reflected in your whole thinking. And let your awareness of yourself be as uncomplicated as your thoughts of God. That simplicity will unite you with him in spirit because your mind will no longer be splintered or scattered. He is your being, and you are what you are in him because he is both the author and the essence of all creation and also your author and your presence.
So as you do the work of contemplation, simplify your thoughts. When you consider God, think only that he is as he is, and when you focus on yourself, be simply aware that you are as you are. This exercise will keep your mind one with the One who is everything, but don’t ever forget that you and God are different—he is your essence but you are not his.
All things are created by and live in God, and he lives in all things, creating and animating them. But he alone is the author and essence of himself. Just as nothing can exist without God, he can’t exist without himself. He is both his own being and the essence of everything else, too. That’s what makes God different. He is the one in all things, and all are one in him because all have their being in him who is the being of all.
That’s why your thoughts and emotions can be united with him, through grace, if you neglect your curious analysis of the mystery of your being or of his. With an empty mind and an open heart, let yourself be naked before grace. You will be touched. You’ll experience God as he is, and this will mysteriously nourish your spiritual awareness. On earth, your experience will always be incomplete and dark, a constant unfinished business forever inspiring your longing.
Look up joyfully and say to your Lord aloud or in your heart: “I offer myself to you, Lord, for you are my essence.” Then rest your mind. Remember this simple truth: you are as you are. Let thinking go. Focus intensely on this truth.