Maybe we wouldn’t want to meet him face to face.

When we begin to pray, God may seem to be absent. Obviously I am not speaking of a real absence—God is never really absent—but of the sense of absence which we have. We stand before God and we shout into an empty sky, out of which there is no reply. What ought we to think of this situation?

First of all, it is very important to remember that prayer is an encounter and a relationship, … and this relationship cannot be forced either on us or on God. The fact that God can make himself present or can leave us with the sense of his absence is part of this live and real relationship. If we could mechanically draw him into an encounter, force him to meet us, simply because we have chosen this moment to meet him, there would be no relationship and no encounter. A relationship must begin and develop in mutual freedom. The second very important thing is that a meeting face to face with God is always a moment of judgment for us. We cannot meet God in prayer … and not be either saved or condemned. I do not mean this in major terms of eternal damnation or eternal salvation already given and received, but it is always a critical moment, a crisis. “Crisis” comes from the Greek and means “judgment.” To meet God face to face in prayer is a critical moment in our lives, and thanks be to him that he does not always present himself to us when we wish to meet him, because we might not be able to endure such a meeting. Remember the many passages in Scripture in which we are told how bad it is to find oneself face to face with God, because God is power, God is truth, God is purity. Therefore, the first thought we ought to have when we do not tangibly perceive the divine presence, is a thought of gratitude. ...

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