I love St. Mother Teresa’s “The Fruit of…” prayer –
It’s a recipe Mother Teresa whipped up for us as a guide for how to live a fruitful and abundant life.
I’m sure she wrote it as a step-by-step guide but I mistakenly looked at it like a list of ingredients to collect in no particular order. I tend to skim right over the fruit of silence bud and dive head-first into service activity, failing to realize the significance of each “fruit” and its deliberate position in the prayer.
I busy myself with so much “service”, thinking I’m doing all these good things with love before falling flat on my face, wondering why I feel no peace from all this doing.
God has a way of subtly – or sometimes not so subtly – getting me to see what’s missing. I’m sure He tries to get me to see but it’s hard to catch my attention when I’m buzzing around 100 miles per hour.
Sorry, God, I’m too busy serving you to pay attention to you or hear what you’re trying to tell me.
I hit a brick wall and, in my dazed confusion – look to God and indignantly ask why He didn’t warn me about the wall.
Oh, so now that I’m finally listening, You’re not going to say anything?
Oh…I slowly catch on. I stop listening for a big booming voice, or looking for His answer written clearly in the sky. And then I hear it…
In my zeal to serve God, I dismissed the importance of seeing Mother Teresa’s “fruits” as a step-by-step guide in which each step cannot be accomplished without first cultivating the preceding fruit.
Silence leads to Prayer, Prayer opens our hearts for the fruit of Faith to grow, Faith points us to Love, Love moves us to Service, and, only after those five fruits are fully grown, blossomed, and habitually cultivated, can the fruit of Peace begin to take root in our souls and our lives.
After the heart-wrenching experience of my dad’s death and the deafening numbness of the grief that’s followed, I really couldn’t do anything but go back to that first branch,
The fruit of Silence is Prayer.
Like I shared about using the gift of time I have better, I lessened my commitments and activities and spent more time simply listening and allowing God’s gentle and healing Grace wash over me. Over time, these moments of silence have become a prayer, a wordless but soul-filled conversation with the One who Loves me and Knows me. Through these moments of silence and prayer, He rolls my heart out and kneads a new kind of Faith in me, a refiner’s fire faith. Stronger, deeper, truer.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1: 6-7)
From this refiner’s fire – humbled, laid bare and still aching – we are finally ready to receive Love.
But what is Love?
Love is not a what, Love is a Who. And the Who is God.
God gives Love by ceaselessly giving Himself. In turn, we give Love by giving ourselves back to Him. We give ourselves to Him in silence, through prayer, with faith…and then – by giving Love, by giving God, to the people we encounter.
The wisdom of Mother Teresa’s prayer is that if we ignore the Silence, Prayer, and Faith steps, we’ll lack genuine love in our hearts and any acts of service become monotonous busy work to pass the time, avoid pain, or make ourselves feel better about being a “good” person. All the “good work” we might do will lack long-lasting and fulfilling significance.
Anyone can do good things in the name of “service”; it takes prayer and faith to LOVE.
When I use the time God’s given me to stop doing and just listen to God in the silence, in prayer, with faith, and through Love, I finally notice the buds of Peace poking up through my thawing heart, and in the hearts of those around me.