What’s happening in prayer is that you’re presenting yourself for the ultimate gaze, the ultimate mirroring, the gaze of God. Little by little you become more naked before that perfectly accepting gaze. It’s like lovemaking. You slowly disrobe and become mirrored perfectly in the gaze of God. You gradually allow yourself to be seen, to be known in every nook and cranny; nothing hidden, nothing denied, nothing disguised. And the wonderful thing is, after a while you feel so safe and you know you don’t have to pretend anymore. You recognize your need for mercy, your own utter inadequacy and littleness, that the best things you’ve ever done have been done for mixed and false motives. And the worst things you have ever done were done because you were unconscious.
“Someone is giving their self to me! Someone is sustaining me,” you feel like shouting. Now this experience of being sustained, being given to without any just cause, knowing you didn’t earn it, causes the whole worthiness game to break apart. The True Self experiences reality as radical grace. Who is worthy? No one is worthy. The True Self knows this and lives quietly, calmly and contentedly inside of its radical unworthiness. You can do this because you ironically know that you are totally worthy; but it has nothing to do with you! Your worthiness is entirely given to you (Ephesians 1:3-4). All true holiness is a reflected glory.
Julian of Norwich and Thomas Merton both say that what is happening in prayer is that you are allowing God to recognize God’s self in you and that’s what God always loves and cannot not love. That is God’s new and everlasting covenant with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31f, 33:19-20), promised by the prophets and ritualized in the Eucharist. The human problem is solved from the beginning, and at its core.