~The Art of Prayer
Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning...Luke 12:35
There is a flame within us, started and sustained by God's Spirit, that we are required to tend. It is the part of us that burns for God, for intimacy with him, and for his Kingdom to be revealed in this world. In some this fire is a raging inferno. In fact, it is so real and so present that if you get within a certain proximity of these people you will be warmed by the heat of its passion. And in others this fire is weak and smoldering, like a dim wick that is on the verge of being snuffed out completely. It is of no use to anyone.
And though we cannot control the source of this fire, we are called to tend and feed and fan its flame. We are called to make sure to keep our lamps burning. Therefore, we must be thoughtful and intentional as we consider how to nurture and grow this fire within us. We must learn to listen and reflect and pray in a way that allows us to see how to create the proper conditions for this fire to thrive, and for its flames to grow. We must regularly ask ourselves certain questions like: "What are the things that keep my inner fires going? When and how will I make those things a regular part of my life? What fuels my soul to keep me stumbling toward love? Who are the people and what are the practices that ignite something deep within me?" And when we finally begin to get a sense of the answers to some of these questions, we need to go to work; to start gathering these logs and tossing them on the fire.
O living flame of love that tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! If it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter! O sweet cautery, O delightful wound! O gentle hand! O delicate touch that tastes of eternal life and pays every debt! In killing you changed death to life. O lamps of fire! In whose splendors the deep caverns of feeling, once obscure and blind, now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely, both warmth and light to their Beloved. How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart, where in secret you dwell alone; and in your sweet breathing, filled with good and glory, how tenderly you swell my heart with love.
~John of the Cross