The solitary, being a man of prayer will come to know God by knowing that his prayer is always answered. From there he can go on, if God wills, to contemplation.

Gratitude is therefore the heart of the solitary life, as it is the heart of the Christian life. 118, 119

Jesus promised,

7 Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? (Matthew 7:7-10)

It is such an extravagant, unconditional guarantee. All I have to do is “ask” and “it will be given to me.”

As Merton says, “prayer is always answered.”

“Prayer is always answered” because God is the answer to every prayer. Any prayer genuinely offered with a soft heart and a receptive will opens us more deeply to an awareness of the presence and action of God at work in our lives and in all of life. There is nothing more for which I long. So, as soon as I have prayed, no matter what the content of my prayer may be, I have received the true answer to my prayer.

When I open to the gift of God’s presence of which I become aware through prayer, I experience “gratitude” at the heart of my life. I do not need to generate a thankful heart. Gratitude is simply present, no matter what my material external circumstances may be. In prayer I am conscious of God’s grace and love no matter what may be happening in this moment in my life.

My deepest desire in fact is not for the thing for which I pray. My deepest desire is to know that I am not alone. My life is held. I have an invisible secret Companion who nourishes and sustains me on my journey. This is the answer that comes every time I pray.

Why is it sometimes difficult for me to see that my prayer has been answered the instant it has been uttered?

What impediments are there in my life to the presence of gratitude in my heart?