Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Hard Part of Praying

If you’re anything like me, then prayer doesn’t come easy. I hear about people who pray for three hours every morning, and my head spins. That’s something to admire, but nothing I could emulate.

So I was amazed and relieved when I read what the great poet and philosopher John Donne said about his prayer life.

“I throw myself down in the Chamber, and I call and invite God and his angels. And when they are there, I neglect both God and his angels. For the noise of the fly, the rattling of the coach, and the whining of the door. I remember yesterday’s pleasures, tomorrows fears and dangers, a straw under my knee, a noise in my ear, a light in my eye, and anything, and nothing. All troubles me in my prayer.”

When I quiet myself, open my mind to God, every little detail about the room floods my mind. A straw under my knee, or the discomfort of my chair. Details of my life come to the surface. And the time I set for God soon becomes clogged with the irrelevant, mundane, and trivial. Why is it that when I sit down to pray, prayer becomes so hard? 

Teresa of Avila, another saint of prayer, admitted to shaking the sand in her hourglass to make her prayer hour go faster.

More times than I'd care to admit, I sat down for my penciled time on my schedule to pray, only to glance at my watch, making sure it hadn't stopped.

We can quickly assume that the famous saints that were known as great people of prayer, that it came easy to them. But those we so quickly respect struggled in the very things we respect them for.

So that’s the problem, what’s the solution?

1. Know that the barriers you face in your prayer life are not unique. We all experience the same hindrances, even the saints.

2. We need to understand that these barriers are not unbreakable. Persist in discipline. My point is that we shouldn’t glorify the progress of the saints without embracing the difficulty they faced. The same spiritual breakthroughs are possible for us today.

What other barriers have you faced in your prayer life?