Love is not words or feelings, thoughts or prayers. Love is an action. A spontaneous action taken in the full awareness that one is acting. This is different from an emotional reaction, which is never justified. A loving action has no self in it.
The virtues are an absence before they are a presence. Courage is the absence of fear, innocence of lust, humility of pride. And what is this purifying fecundity, this mothering absence? Love, actually.