It is in the second characteristic of prayer, however, that Julian reveals a more startling dimension - concerning “seker trust.” Her use of the Middle English word seker, sekerly, sekernesse throughout her text implies not only “security” but also absolute certainty - even a sense of joyful relief in being able to let go of all doubt and fear. She writes:
“And all this our lord brought suddenly to my mind, and showed these words and said: “I am the ground of thy beseeching [in prayer]. First it is my will that thou have it, and next I make thee to will it, and next I make thee to beseech it—and thou beseechest it! How should it then be that thou shouldst not have thy beseeching?”
Here, the Lord’s Revelation to Julian turns upside down any idea we might have that our prayer is initiated in any way by us! He identifies himself as the inspiration and foundation of all prayer. First, in his great goodness, Christ wills to give us some grace . . then he makes us conscious of a desire for it . . . next, he nourishes our desire to enter into prayer in order to beseech it . . . And then, we actually do “beseech” it in prayer.
Finally, Christ asks Julian (and us): “How could it then be that you would not receive what you were beseeching me for?” (since it was Christ himself who conceived the grace he wanted to give us in the first place!).
Of course, in this Revelation, Christ encourages Julian (and all of us) to pray only for that which will be best for our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray. But it is essential to our “seker trust” that we realize true prayer is not initiated by us, but is already a response to the urging of the Holy Spirit. Thus, our prayers could never, in any way, cause graces and gifts to come to us from God. God’s own goodness is the endless ground of
every good thing he ever wishes to give us. In fact, even before we pray, God is waiting to give.
Julian experienced “a mighty comfort” in receiving this divine illumination and so should we!
Prayer of Thanksgiving
In addition to petitionary prayer, Julian stresses the prayer of thanksgiving which is “a true, inward knowing” about exactly where all our blessings come from. Julian also understands thanksgiving as a dedication of all our energies to the good work
that the Lord directs us to do in our lives, “rejoicing and thanking inwardly.” Here, Julian shows us the great importance of rejoicing in - and thanking God for - all the good works we are able to do. Such prayers of thanksgiving enlarge our capacity for making ever greater effort and receiving even greater joy of heart.
Times of Trouble
Of course, at other times, when the heart feels barren and the thought of prayer has no appeal for us, or else when we are enduring trials or temptations, then prayer, according to Julian,
makes us want “to cry aloud to our Lord” in sheer desperation. At such times, Julian admits that prayer is hard (and so is “seker trust”). But Julian assures us that the strength of the Lord’s own word will enter and enliven our hearts, giving us the grace to pray more peacefully and once again to rejoice in God. She adds: “This is a very lovely thanking in his sight.”
Season of Thanksgiving
During this Season of Thanksgiving, Julian’s heartfelt words remind us that all the good that has ever come to us in our lives – people we love, talents we develop and enjoy, rewarding work we are able to do, experiences we have cherished – every one has a divine dimension, not just a human one. God is the direct source of all that is good in our lives.
And further, if we can try to be thankful even for those people and events that have caused us pain or hurt (but have somehow helped us learn and grow into the individuals we are today), then, according to Julian, God will reward us “with honors” in heaven. And for that, we will be thankful at the eternal
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!