“People often complain of ‘distractions’ during prayer. This is nearly always due to praying for something you do not want; you just think it would be proper and respectable and ‘religious’ to want it.”- Herbert McCabe OP
In Chapter 1 (“What If a Wandering Mind Is a Gift?”) of Where Prayer Becomes Real, Kyle Strobel observes what happens to people who struggle with prayer. People struggling with prayer tend to place conversation with God on the periphery of their Christian life. Or, Kyle notes, we just ignore it. As a result, we see prayer as reserved for those rare few who find prayer more ‘natural.’
Thus, during Kyle’s college days pursuing a Bible degree, prayer rarely felt meaningful. Instead, Kyle often felt like he was pleading into an abyss. Looking back, Kyle states that prayer felt more like talking to himself than talking to God.
And since prayer mirrored all the things Kyle didn’t want to see about himself, he found it easier to focus on things that made him feel like he was growing. But, the words of his former professor and coauthor, John Coe, struck deep in Kyle’s heart. John said, “Prayer is not a place to be good. It is a place to be honest.”
Hence, to resurrect his prayer life, Kyle learned to realize that Christ and the Holy Spirit created a place for him to pray in the Father’s presence. Consequently, Kyle notes, prayer is not a place to:
- be good – it’s a place to be honest
- perform – it is a place to be present
- be right – it is a place to be known
- prove your worth – it is a place to receive worth and offer yourself in truth
In conclusion, Kyle stresses, it’s quite easy to focus on praying the right way. However, that’s a detriment to actually praying. As a result, this is one place where prayer goes to die. Perhaps, Kyle posits, the deeper reality centers on the fact that the heart knows when we fail to pray the truth. Our cleaned up fantasy bores us.
Today’s question: What distractions during prayer most bother you? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: the July Short Meditation, “Stuffing your ears with cotton”