Prayer: It’s not what it used to be

DeadEndI make no secret of the fact that I go through seasons in the desert with my prayer life. There are times when all I can seem to utter is, “God, please help me.”

I am reading this book; “Still ~ Notes on a mid-faith crisis.” It has been difficult to put it down. So much of what the author, Lauren Winner writes, resonates with me.

The following is written word for word from her book.

“‘Without prayer,’ Catherine Doherty once wrote, ‘the life of the Christian dies.’ Her words scare me; I have edged closer to them than I like to admit. The problem is that your Christian life gets sick before it dies, and it is hard to keep praying when you are sick.

I can paint my walls with slogans about staying faithful to the spiritual disciplines, about formation and habits to carry you through, about how wonderful it is that we Episcopalians have this great incomparable liturgy that keeps us tethered to prayer when our own heart’s a-wandering, but the simple truth is when you don’t know what you believe and don’t know where you are or you think you’ve been deluded or abandoned or you’ve glutted yourself with busyness and you are hiding from yourself or the day has just been too long – if that is who and how you are, prayer sounds like a barefoot hike from Asheville to Paris: it would be nice if you got there, you are sure there is a nice glass of wine and a nice slice of brie waiting for you at some cafe somewhere, but there is really no way you can imagine actually making the walk.

In those instances it can be hard even to put your body in the posture of prayer…

Because it is easier to read about prayer than to pray, I have shelves of books: meditations on the Lord’s Prayer by a dozen different authors; scholarly accounts of prayer in the twelfth century, the eighteenth century; Hasidic wisdom on prayer; manuals for knitting a prayer rug, a prayer shawl, a prayer blanket, a prayer tree. (I don’t alas, know how to knit.) Sometimes I think that all this reading gets in the way, that the books become excuses, something to do in lieu of praying. Other days, I know that to read about prayer is at least to indulge my desire, to acknowledge that I want this thing, that I long for it…

…I can participate in prayer (or not), show up to pray (or not), but I am not the author of my prayers; when they come, they come from God.”

* Excerpts were taken from pages 67, 75 and 77.
To listen to the series on “Red-Letter Prayers,” click here

10 thoughts on “Prayer: It’s not what it used to be

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  4. Joy, so glad you like the book. I appreciate writers who don’t try to hide their struggles with maintaining a viable faith, and Lauren Winner is a really good one. Her writing is beautiful, and so many of her thoughts fall into the “wish I had said that” category. Your readers may be interested to know that she is doing a retreat at St. Mary’s in Suwannee, TN in November.

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  6. ‘Without prayer,’ Catherine Doherty once wrote, ‘the life of the Christian dies.’ These are words that take me aback. That is scary. What is scary is that I believe it is true. It is one of those things we must do regardless of how we feel; regardless of what we say to God. We must not break that link to God.
    I remember you posting in May about that Hallelujah song by Amy Grant and how many times my prayers are like that. Your post then made me realize that was ok with God that our cries to him were like that.
    Thanks again for another perspective on prayer!!

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