‘First of all it is very important to remember that prayer is an encounter and a relationship, a relationship that is deep 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 with us, simply because we have chosen this moment to meet with him, there would be no relationship and no encounter. We can do that with an image, with the imagination or with the various idols we can put in front of us instead of God; we can do nothing of the sort with the living God, any more than we can do it with a living person. A relationship must begin and develop in mutual freedom. If you look at the relationship in terms of mutual freedom, you will see that God could complain a good deal more about us than him. We complain that he does not make himself present for the few minutes we reserve for him, but what about the twenty three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer: ‘I’m sorry. I’m busy …’ So there is the situation in which we have no right to complain because we are a great deal more absent than he is.’*

The author explains later that it may well be a courtesy from God that he does not always present himself to us when we wish to because it could be embarrassing and even devastating. So he allows us time to prepare for the visit, as it were, in the same way that we ourselves might delay visiting a friend if we are aware that it might be ‘too hard’.

*Excerpt quoted from Anthony Bloom’s classic, School for Prayer