St. Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection Chapter 23

Begin with great determination in prayer

 “There are so many reasons why it is extremely important to begin with great determination in prayer. 

     What bride is there who in receiving many valuable jewels from her bridegroom will refuse to give him even a ring as a pledge that she will be his until death?  Does our Lord deserve less?  But this little bit of time that we resolve to give Him, which we spend on ourselves and on someone who will not thank us for it, let us give to Him, since we  desire to do so, with our thoughts free of other things and unoccupied by them.  And let us be wholly determined never to take it back from Him, neither because of trials on this account, nor because of contradictions, no because of dryness.  I should consider the time of prayer as not belonging to me and think that He can ask it of me in justice when I do not want to give it wholly to Him.

     Another reason for beginning with determination is that the devil will not then have so free a hand to tempt.  He’s extremely afraid of determined souls, for he has experience the great harm they do him.  But if the devil should see carelessness, he would do great harm.  And if he knows that someone is changeable and unstable in being good and not strongly determined to persevere, he will keep after him day and night; he will cause fears and never-ending obstacles.  I know this very well through experience, and that’s why I’m able to say, and do say, that no one know how important determination is.

     The other reason for beginning with determination is – and it is very much to the point – that the person who does so struggles more courageously.  He knows that come what may he will not turn back.  As in the case of one who is in a battle, he knows that if he is conquered they won’t spare him his life and that if he doesn’t die in battle he will die afterward.  He struggles with greater determination and wants to fight like a desperado – as they say – and he doesn’t fear the blows so much, because he is convinced of how important victory is and that for him to conquer is to live.  It’s also necessary to begin with the assurance that if we don’t let ourselves be conquered, we will obtain our goal; this without a doubt, for not matter how small the gain, one will end up being very rich.

     Nevertheless, I say that should anyone have some doubt little would be lost in trying the journey of prayer; for this journey brings with it the following good;  more is given that is asked for, beyond what we could desire.  This is absolutely true;  I know.  And those of you who know it by experience, through the goodness of God, can be my witnesses.”

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