I've heard these complaints so many times from people trying to pray in silence or be more consistent in their prayer life. Can you relate to any of them?
I get restless when I try to sit still because I feel guilty I should be getting something done.
I have so many thoughts racing through my head I can't focus. I'm just bad at praying.
I don't feel peaceful when I pray. Everything I'm angry or worried about comes to the surface. I'm just doing it wrong.
Do those sound like any of the problems you have in prayer? Or any of the reasons you never want to take the time to pray? If so, you can take comfort that you're not alone. Far from it!
First it's important to say that anything can be a form of prayer if you're making an intention to connect with God. Anything that you're doing in union with God can be a form of prayer. I feel like I'm in prayer when I write. Others will say they feel they're in prayer when serving the homeless. You can be making breakfast, driving to work, standing in line at the grocery store and you can be intentionally making the choice to enter into relationship with God.
If you're wanting to spend more time in a contemplative space and enjoy more quiet time with God, and you feel frustrated with the experience, there are some helpful things to keep in mind that I found in Joyce Rupp's book, "Inviting God In". She says there are signs to listen to if you're feeling frustrated, restless, or as she puts it, "bored". Rupp says:
- "Boredom may be telling us that we need to enliven our prayer, try some new approaches, be open to a different way to envision God, or be more open and honest with God."
- "Boredom may be telling us that our human spirit is at a low point physically, mentally or emotionally. It may be teaching us patient endurance or faithfullness."
- "Boredom may be trying to draw us into accepting the "being" aspect of prayer which is very difficult for Americans who always want something to show for their efforts."
- "Boredom and not wanting to pray might be teaching us that we have to let go of thinking that we are the ones who make prayer happen. It could be a very graced time of learning how to surrender to God, the source of our growth."
Rupp says your prayer time will not always produce good feelings. There will be times when it doesn't feel good because you're having to let thoughts or feelings that have been hidden in your heart rise to the surface. Try to stay in honest conversation with God during those times and eventually you can find that "God continues to embrace us as lovingly in the darkness as in the light."
This month's blog is an excerpt from my online retreat coming up on "The Journey Within: Finding Yourself in God's Endless Love". The more you develop your prayer life, the closer you can feel to God, which means the closer you can get to your true self. Who am I and Who is God are the two questions we're talking about during the online retreat that starts March 5th, 2018. Learn more right here.
I'd love to hear about your experience in your prayer life. What do you do when you get bored praying? How do you find new prayer practices?