When It Is Hard To Pray
By Mata H on February 07, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
Do you want to pray or meditate, but find it hard to actually do it? I have heard so many reasons, and have used a few of them myself:
- It is hard to find the time.
- It is never quiet enough.
- I start, but then do not know what to say.
- It doesn't feel like God or the Universe is interested.
- My concerns are too small.
- My concerns are too large. Nothing can help.
It is difficult to feel separated from a source that can help or comfort us.
I love the Biblical story in Luke about the judge and the widow. The widow had been wronged, and she had rights that had been violated. The judge did not pay attention to her, brushing her off. She came back again and again, until she had nagged him down to a frazzle. Then she got what she needed and was entitled to. In that story we are then encouraged to pray boldly like that -- to just keep knocking at the door until someone answers it.
I am, as I have described myself a number of times "a praying kind of gal." So when I talk about prayer, I am talking about a conversation with God. For others it may be a conversation with the power of the Universe, or Allah or a saint, or a goddess, or The Source. But for all of us who pray, it is a plea, a request from us to a Higher Power. It is wishing with heartfelt intent, for the best outcome. It is trusting that prayer communicates our love and our hope. It is an act of profound introspection, in which we learn about ourselves and our relationship to God.
When I know someone who needs comfort I do what I can, as I know you do too. We bring soup, we take care of their kids, we hold hands, hug, loan money, take them out for chocolate ice cream -- whatever is required.
But do we consider praying for them as part of what we can do to help?
Sometimes it is easier praying for someone else than it is to pray for our own concerns. That's why I suggest it if you are having trouble praying:
Pray For Someone Else's Needs
Get a piece of paper and list the names and concerns that you have for a few other people. Even one other person is fine. Now put it somewhere you will see it or feel it -- in your pocket or on your computer or in your wallet. Whenever you see it, send up a quick wish for them, a hasty prayer. It doesn't have to be a production number; "God, help Maggie today, thanks" will work just fine.
Pray A Familiar Prayer
Pray a prayer that you may have memorized. Just do it because you know it. Get into the rhythm of the prayer, like a chant. Then add a few words of your own. Feel free to start small, a little more each day that is straight from you.
Set a Definite Time for Prayer
It doesn't have to be "at 5 sharp," although if that works for you, fine. It could be "when I wake up" or "before sleep" or "during my lunch hour" or even something unconventional like "when I am in the shower" or "on the bus to work." Find a time in the day when you are alone -- even if it is a brief time... and when things around you are quiet. Then say what is on your heart. It may feel clumsy at first. Just keep at it for a month. Every day. We find time for so much, we can all find a time for prayer.
Know That Your Words Are Heard
This can be tough. Prayer is not like placing an order at a restaurant. You don't necessarily get the results you asked for. But in prayer you open yourself to the possibility of a good result. You align your intentions with what is best. I had cancer many years ago. I prayed that I didn't need a hysterectomy before having children. But I still did. I still had to have the surgery. But I never felt alone even in the darkest moments. I felt the presence of God directly and in the faces and hands of my friends and family who cared for me during my recovery,and celebrated with me when I became cancer-free. I didn't get what I asked for, but I know I was heard, and comforted and not left to go through it alone. One of my favorite quotes about prayer is from Martin Luther: "Pray, and let God worry."
Remember, Prayer Does Not Require Words
There are times when getting closer to a Higher Power just means we must find a quiet space and listen. Listen to our hearts, listen to the questions and answers that come. Try sitting quietly with a focus on listening. Quietly listen and feel your way through five minutes of silence. It may not be easy, but that is all right. Just try it a few times and journal what comes up.
Use Prayer To Say Thanks
We take the time to thank the grocery clerk or a washing machine repair person, but we often forget to thank God or our Higher Power. It is a simple way to pray, and it will color your whole day -- especially if you do not feel thankful. Just start listing blessings and saying "thank you" after each one. Before you know it, you will find that your day has more blessings than you thought, because this prayer will make it clear.
Pray With Your Children
Those of you who do this already know how amazing this experience can be, and how much you will find yourself learning from it. It also sets up a great routine for the family.
Prayer is a simple thing on the surface, but it is intertwined with so much complexity. We have attitudes about prayer from our families, our early religious teaching, our friends, television, the media and everything from bumper stickers to postcards. How we view prayer rises out of so many variables. For me, a Christian Lutheran, prayer may have a different flavor than for a Hindu or for a Pagan, or even from other Christians. So sorting out hat our preconceptions are may also help unravel any difficulties around prayer.
But the bottom line is that prayer is a reaching out to something beneficent, something bigger than ourselves and our worries. It is not an easy fix. It is standing, open and available, before God. It is opening ones self to that relationship in a spirit of trust.
If it is hard to pray, start small. Do not worry about eloquence. Or, just dive in, knowing that others have swum in that spiritual pool before you.
SOME QUOTATIONS ABOUT PRAYER
“The greatest prayer is patience” Buddha
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” - St Augustine
“Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.” Gandhi
"Prayer does not change God, but it changes one who prays." ~Søren Kierkegaard
"If we could all hear one another's prayers, God might be relieved of some of his burdens." ~Ashleigh Brilliant
To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do. ~Victor Hugo
Call on God, but row away from the rocks. ~Indian Proverb
Please, let us know -- is it ever hard for you to pray? What do you do? Or, do you have advice to offer from your experience on how too pray?
~~ Contributing Editor, Mata H. also blogs right along at Time's Fool
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