I Don’t Like to Pray

I don’t like to pray.  I know that may sound odd coming from a pastor but it’s true.   As an extrovert praying doesn’t come naturally, at least in the traditional sense of folded hands, closed eyes and being quiet. 

I don’t like to pray.  I’d rather be busy doing something, anything, other than praying.  I get energy from being around people, from talking, discussing.  I like the stimulation of lots of people and lots of noise. 

I don’t like to pray.  Praying for me means giving up control….and  I like being in control.  I like being Lord of my own destiny, Captain of my own ship (fill in your own metaphor).  

But when I do pray, when I let go of trying to be in control, I often find that I am graced with a presence and a peace that is not of my own making.   I’m always surprised that I don’t get to the point of praying more quickly.   To pray seems so obvious, the benefits for me so real.

Maybe my resistance to prayer is part of the process for me.  Maybe I am so hard-headed that I need to experience the frustration that comes with trying to be a god unto myself.  Maybe I need to be worn down yet again, before I am ready to invite God to make a home in and with  me.

I’d like to think that the older I get, the more ready I am to pray.   Yet, I still like to be in control.  I still struggle to trust in God.  I still resist ‘letting go’ and ‘letting God’.

I don’t like to pray.  But I do, in spite of myself.  And when I remember to pray, I am met, I am known and I am reminded that I am not alone.

I am learning that prayer doesn’t require that I bow my head and close my eyes.  For me prayer is simply remembering to look and listen and wait upon that Great Mystery we call God.   

I don’t like to pray.  But I’m blessed when I do.

4 thoughts on “I Don’t Like to Pray

  1. Kent. I enjoyed your article; and can relate to it. I struggle with prayer because of the missuse of it. The old patterns of treating prayer like my personal connection to a Genie that will grant my every wish. Or old patterns of using corporate prayer or prayer with another person to manipulate and “correct” the other person(s). I need to learn a new way of praying…Your comment: “…prayer is simply remembering to look and listen and wait upon that Great Mystery we call God.” teaches a new way for me. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Hi Trudy, I think of a quote by Thomas Merton, something to the effect of ‘pray as you can not as you must’. A mentor for me named Myrtle Bartlett, taught me that prayer was like having a converation with a friend at the kitchen table’. I think prayer is this and so much more.

  2. Good thoughts here, Kent. Christian spiritual formation can basically be divided in half, like a Yin and Yang of the soul: contemplation and action. The extrovert will always struggle with the interior needs of the soul and the contemplative posture before God. The introvert, like myself, will always struggle with pulling ourselves away from the “sacred cave” or “interior castle” as Teresa of Avila would say, and out into a world who needs what we’ve discovered in the quiet place. Jesus exhibited a perfect blend of these. He was quite willing to literally turn his back on needy people when deeper matters of his soul were calling. But, he knew when to wade into the fray as well, freshly endued with power and grace from the former. That is what I long to be.

    1. Thanks Rob for your words. Your counsel on the importance of balance really resonates. One growth area that I’m working on is to develop more intentionally a ‘contemplative style’ that works for me. I think it was Merton who said ‘pray as you can not as you must’. I continue to seek that balance, that approach that is life giving for me and those I walk with. I’ve just been accepted to an 18 month program on Contemplative Leadership via the Shalem Institute. I’m hopeful that I’ll be stretched in new ways. Grace and peace.

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