Saturday, October 11, 2008

When Prayer Becomes Work

I'm not too fond of work; I engage in it out of necessity. So when prayer becomes like work, I need to come up with a way to continue doing it despite its distastefulness.

More and more, I have less and less to say to God. Thankfully no words are necessary. Why speak when you don't have to? Being unencumbered by words, I find my next stumbling block to be sitting (or kneeling). I don't like to sit, at least not for long periods. At the monastery they would allow us to do different forms of meditation--sitting, walking, or lying. I chose lying whenever I could. Sometimes I fell asleep, which is why they discourage this form. But if I could do it at a time of day when that was not a risk, I found I was spending less time concentrating on the pains in my back and knees and more time just being still. I had heard St. Francis used to pray lying down.

So, when I go to pray now, I lye down on my mat and don't move, just following my breaths and waiting in vigil in case God decides to speak. It feels less like work than sitting, and I can be dutiful about it, carving out time in the day at intervals. I need a method of inviting more prayer in so that it becomes habitual--the silence (or the conversing), being attuned, all the things that do not come naturally. I think this is the only hope of achieving that elusive state St. Paul refers to: "praying without ceasing."

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