Upgrade Your Spirit: When Prayer Seems Useless

Solitude.  Contemplative Prayer.  Presence.  Just Be.

This is what I am called to of late.  In the interest of full disclosure, I truly meant to move on to the next discipline in the series, but frankly I am struggling with this one-contemplative prayer – so I feel the need to sit with it for a while.  I am mystified by this-  drawn to it. Romanced by the thought of true quality time with my God.

Here’s what is really hard though:

Just BE-ing. NOT DO-ing.

Anyone fight this battle? I feel so useless when I move into the presence of Our Lord with the singular goal of spending time at His feet.

Henri Nouwen echoed my frustration today:

“Why should I spend an hour in prayer when I do nothing durin that time but think about people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind for a moment? The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart, and what is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure.

What I must do first of all is be faithful. If I believe that the first commandment is to love God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, them I should at least be able to spend one hour a day with nobody else but God. The question as to whether it is helpful, useful, practical, or fruitful is completely irrelevant, since the only reason to love is love itself.  Everything else is secondary.

The remarkable thing, however, is that sitting in the presence of God for one hour each morning—day after day, week after week, month after month—in total confusion and with myriad distractions radically changes my life. God who loves me so much that he sent his only Son no to condemn me but to save me, does not leave me waiting in the dark too long. I might think that each hour is useless, but after thirty or sixty or ninety such useless hours, I gradually realize that I was not as alone as I thought; a very small, gentle voice has been speaking to me far beyond my noisy place.

So: Be confident and trust in the Lord.

–        The Road to Daybreak

Oh…wait…this contemplative prayer stuff….it’s not about me.   It’s all about love.  Whether I find myself able to DO it right (anyone else sense the paradox here?) or not is simply not the issue.

Prayer is an act of love.  Quality time. Listening, obeying and trusting, all those things that build wonderfully strong relationships here on earth are the same things that create a strong relationship with God.  In the grand scheme of things my “to-do” list is far more useless to Him than taking an hour and attempting to focus my undivided attention on Him.

What about you? Do you find it difficult to carve time out of your day just to BE with God?

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