Prayer is something that I often take for granted. I decide that I’m going to pray.. and then, well, often this happens:
Uh oh. Why isn’t this working? Um, God.. I’m waiting for my mystical prayer experience.. any time now.. Hello? Anyone home?
You know that feeling? Prayer is hard! And despite my assumptions, it doesn’t just HAPPEN. Instead, it requires effort on our part. We need to get on God’s “level,” in a sense.
Prayer is a BATTLE. It’s not a cakewalk, we really need to put effort into it.
I ran into this cool section in my Handbook of Prayers: Student Edition book by Midwest Theological Forum, and I’d like to share it with you:
Prayer presupposes an effort, or fight against ourselves and the wiles of the Tempter. The battle of prayer is inseparable from the necessary “spiritual battle” to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ: we pray as we live, because we live as we pray. (CCC 2752, 2754-2755)
The principal difficulties that we find are:
- “We don’t have the time.” Prayer is considered as an occupation incompatible with all other things we have to do. Remedy: Make the time for your personal prayer, knowing that nothing could excuse your failing to do so.
- “We get distracted.” Concentration becomes difficult and we easily give up. Remedy: Turn your heart back to God, offering him the distractions with humility, without discouragement.
- “We feel dry.” It seems that the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. Remedy: Remember that “unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
There are also two frequent temptations that threaten prayer:
- Lack of faith. Prayer is not the first priority. Remedy: Ask our Lord with a humble heart, “Lord, increase my faith.”
- Acedia, a form of depression stemming from lax ascetical practice that leads to discouragement. Remedy: Trust God more and hold fast in constancy.
So I’d like to encourage you to renew your efforts of prayer with a new vigor! You can do it! It isn’t easy for any of us, trust me.