There are times when we don’t want to pray. We find that we are too busy to stop – but somewhere recognise that our activity is a way of avoiding the pain of silence where we might meet our own raw emotions or unresolved history.
Underneath all, we might not be sure we can trust this God with what matters to us most. We don’t want an answer that isn’t our answer
Or perhaps we are fed up with sitting there in the place of prayer and not getting anywhere.
For all our efforts we remain distracted and restless, so far from the place of peace and understanding we desire.
How to begin to pray when we don’t want to pray? Here are some suggestions:
1] Begin from where you are and how you are: So, perhaps your prayer starts ‘I am sitting here unwillingly’ or...’I am not able to trust you’ or ...’I am angry with you’...or ’I wonder whether you really care about me’...or ’I am afraid of what you want from me’.
2] Acknowledge that part of you that doesn’t want to pray...look without judgement at this side of your being. Now seek out that part of you that does feel drawn to pray: a sense of invitation that arises somewhere from within, an impulse that comes not as an ‘ought’ but as a longing that perhaps you are not used to listening to. Listen to that desire now.
3] When are you most relaxed? Walking, cooking, gardening, knitting, or losing yourself in a book? Imagine yourself sharing this time with God. You are not so much looking at each other face to face, as being side by side, comfortably sharing the experience. Perhaps some words flow one way or another, but being alongside might be enough of a beginning.
4] Let go of trying too hard. So, rather than summoning up your concentration, fighting distractions that come, or trying to squeeze wisdom from Bible verseS that mean little to you...relax. Prayer does begin with intention, and with choosing to place ourselves in a listening, attentive place, but the rest belongs to God. Leave what comes or does not come from your time of prayer with God. Everything is gift.
5] Use you body to help you to pray. Hold you hands closed to make fists. What is held inside there...feelings, experiences, repetitive worries or thoughts? Now open your hands and turn them palm upwards. All those things are still with you but now there is air around them...now you are open to God who cares about you and about what you carry. Keeping your palms open, turn them so they face down. Now you allow what you carry inside to fall away.
6] Be present: When we step into the present moment we also step into the ‘always’ of God. Look up from your work desk and watch the moving clouds. Open your window in the early morning and listen to birdsong. As the sun gathers strength enjoy its warmth on your back. Give thanks for what you receive in that moment.