Making Prayer

Pure prayer--that is, prayer at its most essential--is preparing the soul to be ravished by God knowing that God loves you and desires to give you nothing but the greatest pleasure.

O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! For your love is better than wine.

It is making the bed, smoothing the coverlet and positioning the pillows carefully, so as to prepare a place where you may come together in love.

Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine.

It is lighting candles and incense to give the room warmth and scent.

What is that coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the litter of Solomon!

It is cleaning your teeth and brushing your hair, so that you may appear as fresh and clean as possible for your lover.

Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.

It is putting on your most elegant jewelry and most seductive lingerie, perhaps anointing your breasts with ointments good to smell and to taste.

Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an arsenal, whereon hang a thousand bucklers, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies.

It is perfuming yourself and your clothes, sweetening your breath and your skin.

Your lips distill nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon.

It is washing your hands and your feet and keeping them clean once you have entered the bedroom to wait for your lover.

I had put off my garment, how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet, how could I soil them? My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt.

It is longing for your lover to come into the chamber that you have prepared for him, and only him, your body and soul reserved for him alone.

A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed.

It is inviting your lover to come to you and take possession of what is his.

Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its fragrance be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

It is opening to him at the sound of his voice, whenever he should come.

I slept, but my heart was awake. Hark! my beloved is knocking. "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night."

It is praising your lover to whomever will listen, his beauty and talent, his body and speech.

My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand.... His body is ivory work, encrusted with sapphires.... His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable.

It is searching for your lover in your heart and in your bed, regardless of how long you have had to wait or how much pain his absence has caused you.

Upon my bed by night, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.

It is going out into the world, risking its judgment against your love and your willingness to surrender to your lover in love.

The watchmen found me, as they went about in the city; they beat me, they wounded me, they took away my mantle, those watchmen of the walls.

It is holding onto your lover wherever you should find him, refusing to be interrupted by the concerns of the day or the demands of the world.

Scarcely had I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please.

It is going outside into the garden and sitting under the trees, listening to the birds singing and watching the flowers bloom.

Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.

It is having the courage to proclaim your love to the world, declare yourself passionately aroused.

If I met you outside, I would kiss you, and none would despise me. I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranate.

It is to acknowledge your desire for your lover, your longing for his embrace.

O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me!

It is to believe yourself beautiful, whether the world sees you that way or not, whether you seem to fit with what the world declares as its standard of beauty.

I am very dark, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am swarthy, because the sun has scorched me.

It is to listen to your lover when he declares that you are beautiful and believe that he means what he says.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely.

It is to allow him to love you and take you to the heights of pleasure.

With great delight, I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am sick with love.

It is to allow yourself hope for the future, trusting that the past can no longer hurt you, that you are forgiven and loved.

My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land."

It is to be crowned with him in ecstasy, wedded to him in love.

Go forth, O daughters of Sion, and behold King Solomon, with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his heart.

It is to know that you are loved and desired and that you belong utterly to him.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.

It is to offer yourself to him that he might climb you and possess you.

How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden! You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches.

It is to know yourself safe and at home in your love.

I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who brings peace.

It is knowing that there is nothing that love cannot achieve and that it is love that gives meaning to life because without love one is never really alive.

For love is as strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave.

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