“Give me the grace to recollect myself in the little heaven of my soul where You have established Your dwelling. There You let me find You, there I feel that You are closer to me than anywhere else, and there You prepare my soul quickly to enter into intimacy with You … Help me O Lord, to withdraw my senses from exterior things, make them docile to the commands of my will, so that when I want to converse with You, they will retire at once, like bees shutting themselves up in the hive in order to make honey.”St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)
The Prayer of Recollection is an extremely simple method of prayer described by St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) in Chapter 26 of The Way of Perfection. She says it was a method the Lord Himself taught her, and that she never knew what it was to pray with satisfaction until she learned it.
Over time, the method was embroidered with all kinds of steps and complications I can’t follow. I much prefer the simplicity of her original teaching.
To begin with, make time to be alone with God in silence. Relax in whatever way works for you. Close your eyes and be conscious of His presence. Make the Sign of the Cross.
Make an examination of conscience and silently pray an Act of Contrition, either the set prayer or your own words. I sometimes think of this as the Lord tenderly washing my face as a mother does her child’s.
Now, knowing Jesus is with you, pray with Him, slowly and attentively the prayer He taught us. As you do this, pay attention to what you are saying. Be aware the whole time, of Who it is you are speaking to. Pray “Our Father…”
Now, as St. Teresa says, “look at Him.”
How do we “look” at Jesus? Where is He? We know Jesus is present within us, living and accessible. So we bring our awareness to this truth and we stay there, attentive to Him. It may help you to imagine Him looking at you, being with you, because it is true. Imagination can help us stay anchored with Him. So can silently praying His Name, or mentally hearing Him speak His words from the Gospel directly to you. Eventually Imagination, words, intellect fall away and are not needed anymore in prayer. That will be God’s doing. Always be receptive to that. But when imagination, His Name, or words of Scripture can help you keep the eyes of your soul on Him, they are good tools.
I am not asking you now to think of Him, or to form numerous conceptions of Him, or to make long and subtle meditations with your understanding. I am asking you only to look at Him. For who can prevent you from turning the eyes of your soul (just for a moment, if you can do no more) upon this Lord?St. Teresa of Jesus
Your mind is going to go everywhere. This is normal. The important thing is to bring it back gently every time and continue to be attentive to Him with you.
Now, fully aware of Him and present to Him is there anything you would like to say to Jesus? Do you have anything to ask Him? Do you feel He is saying anything to you? Let yourself talk with Him, and try to be receptive to His presence and love, to anything He may be communicating to you.
Stay with Him.
I like to close with a set prayer such as the Glory Be.
Now make the Sign of the Cross.
Make this prayer a part of your daily life, and make spending time with the Friend who you know loves you, a consistent priority, so that your friendship with Jesus will grow better, richer, deeper and more solid than ever before. Start with a few minutes and as you can add time, do so. The standard amount of time is half an hour with this prayer. However, any amount of time you can give to this God can work with!
Once again I assure you that, if you are careful to form habits of the kind I have mentioned, you will derive such great profit from them that I could not describe it even if I wished. Keep at the side of this good Master, then, and be most firmly resolved to learn what He teaches you; His Majesty will then ensure your not failing to be good disciples, and He will never leave you unless you leave Him. Consider the words uttered by those Divine lips: the very first of them will show you at once what love He has for you, and it is no small blessing and joy for the pupil to see that his Master loves him.St. Teresa of Jesus
Truly prayer is about love. So sit with Jesus and let yourself be loved. Doing this you also become a spiritual channel for the outflow of His love and grace to the whole world.