Today's Gospel is Matthew's parable of the wise and foolish virgins. It's one of my favorites. The ten virgins wait for the bridegroom to arrive. As the night goes on, only those who have brought an extra supply of oil for their lamps are there when he finally comes. The others have to go shop for more, and they miss the bridegroom and the party.
Of course the Lord, the world's Bridegroom, is arriving at every moment. The presence of God we call grace is there in each encounter and each perception of the world around us. In the love and care of others we experience the love of God. In the suffering we inflict on our sisters and brothers, and on creation itself, we see Christ Crucified and know ourselves to be his torturers.
But we'll only see the Bridegroom in all these things if we have brought a supply of oil with us, and the oil is prayer. We pray not because prayer itself is much of an experience, but so that we might train our minds to see the Bridegroom when he comes. We practice quiet prayer because the Word of God was spoken in Silence, and it is in Silence that we hear It. We pray the Scriptures so as to bend our mind to the imagination that interprets the world through an experience of God.
If we don't build up our supply of oil in prayer, we will begin to lose the perception of God in the people and events around us. Like the foolish virgins, we miss out on the one thing that fulfills our nature completely, and for which we were created.
Incidentally, I think this is partly why my posts have been a little stale lately; I'm in a new house and haven't got my personal prayer practice down quite yet.