The prayer of quiet is the second type of contemplative prayer God gives in St. Teresa’s fourth mansions. Here is Teresa’s description of the prayer of quiet from Way of Perfection:
This is a supernatural state, and, however hard we try, we cannot reach it ourselves… In this state the faculties are all stilled. The soul, in a way which has nothing to do with the outward senses, realizes that it is now very close to its God, and that, if it were but a little closer, it would become one with Him through union.
The faculties that Teresa refers to are the powers of the soul, namely, the powers of thought, will, and memory. Teresa states that the will is occupied during the prayer of quiet, captivated by God, and enjoying a love communion with him.
Sometimes thought and imagination try to participate in and aid contemplative prayer. Often they just get in the way. They are restless, and they can be restless even while the will is completely at peace.
As the prayer of quiet grows deeper over time, the intellect will begin to “sleep,” being captivated along with the will.
In later stages of contemplation, the imagination and memory will share in the quiet of contemplation, but in these early stages they seldom do.
Here is her description from the fourth mansions:
The soul is so satisfied with God that as long as the recollection lasts the quiet and calm are not lost since the will is united with God even though the two faculties are distracted; in fact little by little the will brings the intellect and memory back to recollection. Even though the will may not be totally absorbed, it is so well occupied without knowing how, that no matter what efforts the other two faculties make they cannot take away its contentment and joy.
This prayer is effortless. It is the work of God, not the soul. The soul has done its work by persevering in mental prayer in the past and striving to do God’s will out of love throughout the day. I want to emphasis again that no technique or method can create this prayer. You cannot become a contemplative by trying to force your mind, memory, or will to be quiet.
You are powerless to produce the prayer of quiet. You can only prepare for it.