Prayer does not always come easy or natural. There are times for me it can be a real struggle. Our Catechism calls this THE BATTLE OF PRAYER. It’s a battle against ourselves to stay focused, and Satan doing all he can to keep us from getting closer to God (CCC 2725). Our Catechism lists four common struggles in prayer and how to overcome them – lack of time, distractions, dryness, and being uninspired.
Lack of time comes from the failure to see prayer as a necessary part of our life. There is no simple solution to this one. Prayer is not optional. Prayer is absolutely essential to stay close to God and keep the devil away. We need to find time in our busy day for prayer just as we would any other activity that is important to us. Even 15 minutes of prayer each day is better than no prayer at all.
Distractions are real and make prayer difficult. The solution is not to give up but be persistent in refocusing on God. C.S Lewis wrote it is better to accept distractions as our present problem and make them the main theme of our prayer than ignore they exist. God understands and wants us to grow closer to Him rather than drift away with frustrating distractions.
Dryness is feeling like you are in the middle of the desert. No water, no shade, and no hope of ever getting out. Nothing is working. Our prayer feels hollow, even futile, and we become no longer interested in our spiritual growth. Even St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta experienced dryness in prayer. When we do, we can think of Jesus’ own experience of forty days the desert. No matter how tempted we are to quit, we can focus on our desire to become closer to God and emerge on the other side with renewed spirit and energy.
Being uninspired can happen when we are overwhelmed, have not prayed for a while, or can’t find the words to pray. When uninspired, remember St. Ignatius said praying is like talking to Jesus as a friend. Simply ask Him for forgiveness, protection, and wisdom about the problems you face.
Our Catechism reminds us we cannot pray without “humility, trust, and perseverance” (CCC 2728). Praying is not rattling off a list of wants and needs (CCC 2650). We pray to be ever mindful that God is with us no matter what we face in life. We pray to express both our sorrow and thanksgiving. We pray to do our best and exalt God in everything we do. We pray for strength and courage, and yes, we even pray for miracles. God calls us, and prayer is our response to that call. Through prayer, we train our minds and hearts to focus on what is good and holy to receive the peace of heart we all desire.
Adapted from an “Introduction to Catholicism” by Father James Socias