Monday, February 17, 2014

Praying When We Don't Feel Like Praying

More snow. More RED marked "high" levels on the "aches and pains index." O Bother!

Still, I can't blame that for the odd malaise of today. Nor can I blame it on Monday. There are some days when time seems to just plod along, relentlessly going nowhere.

Everything seems to have lost its vividness and texture. It's all reduced to stuff: stuff to do, stuff to move, stuff to say to people, stuff to eat, stuff to read, stuff going on in the world.

I guess I am not surprised that people are materialists. What seems to be their experience -- the appearance of things -- is dull, monotonous, and seemingly beneath the level of their interest. Stuff.

But I have faith. I believe that God became man and dwells in the midst of all this stuff. But today I am not going to do a very good job of explaining why that is important. Today I feel a little stupified by stuff, and I find it very difficult to recognize Christ's presence in the midst of it all (or perhaps what I mean to say is that I lack the energy, and find it very difficult to summon the enthusiasm to write about such things with any insight).

Nevertheless I believe, and I summon myself to pray. Prayer. This is everything. Even when I don't feel like praying.

We have a choice: prayer or the void. Prayer or nothingness. Prayer turns to God and says, "You are here." Emotionally and intellectually the experience of prayer can seem dry and insignificant just like everything else we do. There is a serious temptation here, one that could lead me to think that prayer is just more stuff that I do during the day.

NO! Prayer is, first of all, something that God does in me. He whispers in my heart. If the desire to lift my mind and heart to God stirs within me -- however faint and weak and wretched that desire may seem -- it means that God is attracting my heart, he is drawing me to himself.

God calls us to pray everyday. He has given us the words. "Our Father...." To accept God's words and address them to God in obedience to God is already the beginning of the conviction that the "stuff" of the day is more than it appears to be.

"Hallowed be thy Name / thy Kingdom come / thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

There. I prayed it.

I lacked the warmth of ardor. I didn't pay attention to the words. I begin the words and my mind was immediately sucked back into the stuff that surrounds me and that appears so real, the stuff that is perishing all around me, the void....

Still, an event took place within my heart. Saying the words and just wanting to pray are the beginning of the affirmation of eternity. God will bring the rest: the attention, the conversation, the conviction, the transformation of the way I look at reality. He will do so in his time, according to his plan. But I must be faithful. I must pray. Pray, pray, pray. Even if that means just taking up the words in dryness and believing and hoping in God.

We do not need to fall into nothingness. Jesus. His very name is a prayer. "God saves." God, save me.