Why is praying so difficult? It shouldn’t be. I remember a time when it was easy. As a child, I prayed often. It was an ongoing conversation, one i was eager to explore. There was a time, for a while, when as an adult, God made it easy for me. He removed my ability to engage in distractions through the simple means of a concussion. I could not read, write, watch television or movies, or engage in lengthy conversations. The only activity that did not give me a headache was praying the Divine Office. So I prayed. Every day. Almost every hour. And it was easy. So vey easy!
I knew even at the time that this was sustained by grace, not by my own effort. Like a child suckling milk at its mother’s breast, it required minimal effort. He offered and I drank.
I knew that would not last. And it didn’t.
These days, praying is an effort. It’s like being sick to your stomach and you know you need to take your medicine, but the very idea of swallowing anything sounds painful. I struggle with every prayer. And too often fail to even engage the struggle because I’m sick of being sick and I don’t actually feel better.
I’m so immature. Maturity would be praying despite that dryness. I know that. And yet, even knowing that, I still struggle to make a start on any given day.
Lazarus! Come out!
But it’s so easy to not get up. To stay here where the dangers are known and I don’t have to fight, struggle, to try for every breath. He calls me to leave my tomb and I’m such a child, I throw myself, like a two year old, to the ground and wail. “Come pick me up! Why won’t you carry me! You open the door and bring me out, because I’m having my temper tantrum and I want You to do it for me, like You used to!”
I’m not a child like Therese, not as on, “Let the children come to me.” Not like my nieces who get so excited about their faith. I used to be like that. No, I’m a child like my nephew is a child when he doesn’t get what he wants, when he wants it, so he throws himself to the floor sobbing, fists pumping, years and snot flowing freely.
It is part fear, part anger, and wholly inappropriate. I ask God to let me suffer for others and He grants my prayers. Then I’m resentful that He gave me what I asked for and it turns out to be not quite what I was hoping for.
There is nothing pretty about suffering. I can’t dress it up and make it pretty, fun, interesting, vain…
It requires a courage I don’t possess and a strength I lost somewhere along the way. It requires more love than I know how to give. It asks me to grow up and recognize that all the prettiness of sanctity is window dressing. Real sanctity is smelly, dirty, hard. It asks us to be selfless when we want another chocolate bar or five and shot of whiskey for consolation. Cheap crap. Real consolation is the blood of Christ. The sweat of the Garden, the bleeding and mess of the crucifixion. That whole end product is so much better, but I keep stuffing chocolate bars in my face and whining.
“If only I had an enemy greater than my apathy, I could have won.” So songs Mumford and Sons, and they are right.
I want God. I want the relationship He offers, I want to be as in love with Him as I used to be. I want to be on fire for Him. I want to be excited about Him. I want the sweetness and beauty. But I don’t like the price.
I’m tired. I’m sick all the time. I love in constant pain. I’m angry and resentful, I feel used, unloved and unwanted and I want it all to stop. Right now.
I am ashamed. He gives me everything, and I offer him anger and resentment.
O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
“Seek his face.”
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.
Lord, kindle a light for my guidance and scatter my darkness, alleluia.