". . ., but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26

I invite you to explore and reflect on the ways that we become more aware of how we can interact with God. I will discuss ways that we can become more sensitive and aware of God's presence in our daily life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When I Cannot Pray

There are times in each person's life when it become difficult to pray. Words just do not come. It never feels like it is the right time or the right place. You may feel very awkward and think that no one is listening.

This is a natural part of prayer life. I have a few suggestions of things to do when this happens. (Notice that I did not say if it happens, but when it happens.)

Step 1 - Discernment
Are you really having a crisis of faith or are you just exhausted from a hectic schedule and lack of sleep?
Is there some strong feeling that is overcoming everything else: sadness, joy, anger, guilt, envy, greed, . . .?
Is there something that you do not want to be honest about with God?

Step 2 - Talk
Do not try to pray--just talk.
Talk to God about your inability to pray. Talk to God about what is bothering you. Do not fold your hands or close your eyes. Just have a brief conversation with God.

Step 3 - Be Gentle
This is not a time to feel guilty or to be mad at yourself. Do not focus on the frustration. Do not question your faith. If you focus on yourself and your inner turmoil, you will not leave space for God to be present.
This is easy for me to say, but I know that it will not be easy to do. Jane Redmont has written of a difficult time in her life when:
"There was a year, ...when I simply could not pray.
I remember this time as dry and somewhat sad, empty.
There was simply nothing. As I look back, I see that
this period was one of the most significant in my
prayer life, because I was truly carried by the prayer
of others, by the prayer of the community of faith to
which I belonged. ... I put myself inside the prayer
of the church. It cradled me. I moved me along.
It held me up."
When in Doubt, Sing, page 122.

Step 4 - Fidelity
Try to pray anyway. Do not worry about what to say. Try to be faithful. Use the familiar: prayers from your childhood, favorite hymns, familiar Psalms, the Lord's Prayer. Reading one of these aloud may help you.

Step 5 - Change
Try something different. Go to a different place to pray. If you always use words, then sit in silence. If you sit in silence, read from the Psalms. Sing your prayers. Change your prayer posture. You may notice an immediate change or it make take a week or more.

The above are suggestions. I do not imply that you follow all 5 steps and everything will be fixed. You may need to try all five or just one.

The difficulties with prayer, the emptiness, may be necessary as a part of your spiritual development. As a field may need to lay fallow before a new crop is planted, your prayer life may need a time of emptiness and rest.

God is always with you even if you may be unable to see or feel God's presence.

I welcome your comments Wordsandsighs.gmail.com

Talk to God anyway.

Pastor Michael

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