Prayers Change When We Grow

I used to pray for a path

that made sense to me

I used to pray for a road

that only I could see

I used to pray for a future

where I would be free

Now I pray for the way

that leads me close to Thee.

-nJb

 

Follow my poetry account on Instagram for more @njb.poetry

Fighting the Prayer Battle

If you read any quotes, books, or stories about the saints you will see a common theme.

    1.Prayer is always the answer.

And also.

    2. Prayer is not easy.

For many of us we understand #1 but we have great difficulty implementing it into our lives #2.

 

Hopefully, my story can give you hope and allow you to keep persevering in prayer.

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I remember sitting outside of my university’s science building a few years ago. I was talking to a friend and asking for some guidance on prayer.

Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: I’m having some trouble praying. Like I want to pray, but when I do, I don’t feel right.

Friend: What do you mean?

Me: I want to pray but I almost feel restless whenever I do. I feel this deep unrest, and it makes me not want to pray. 

This was a few years ago and it did not get any better. It got so much worse.

Whenever I prayed, I was restless. I felt uneasy about myself and almost felt more unsafe. I felt intense guilt.  I didn’t like it one bit. I felt like a horrible person for it.

Why when I try to draw close to God do I feel horrible?

My folded hands were almost a stimulus for my anxiety.

This “feeling” took a gun to my prayer life. Over the past few years, I prayed a lot less. My nighttime routine seemed to fade away. Praying the rosary became a less frequent occurrence. Even during Mass, I resisted finding a quite place in my heart to talk to God.

My lack of prayer was not apparent. Looking back, I realize this now; however, it was very camouflaged.

Instead of prayer, I would use other “stimuli” to capture my attention. I would jump into the world of social media. I would post funny things in group chats. I would watch a lot of useless youtube videos.

I was constantly distracting myself from this earthly unrest by not living.

Well, this all took a turn the over the last few weeks.

After much reflecting on God, reading about the lives of the saints, going to Mass often, Christ-centered conversation, and more reflection I realized what was going on.

I lost the fact that I was just a human. A human jailed in the flesh, constantly being attacked by the devil. Prayer would not always come easy. The devil wants nothing more than to take us away from our King. The devil wants to destroy our relationship with Christ.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.

So I decided to prayer. I decided to lose my life in order to save it.

I decided to feel the horrible unrest. I decided to feel the guilt and the lack of peace.

I decided to do this all for Him. I decided to fight this battle against the enemy and praise my Lord Jesus Christ even if it did not “feel” correct.

And you know what happened.

Last night, I was praying the rosary.

And out of nowhere, I was hit by a deep peace.

Whenever, I am hit with despair and distress I am inclined to pray. I am drawn to let the Lord know what is going on in my life.

St. Padre Pio once said,

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.”

And he is right. My soul was gasping for air the past few years. Each time it got a breath,  I allowed “my feelings” to drown me. I let the voice of the devil and the unrest placed in my heart to stop my lungs from working.

If any of you out there have had a similar experience or are going through a similar one, I encourage you to pray.

Pray even when you have insane doubts.

Pray even when you don’t want to.

Pray even when you feel won’t be heard.

Because prayer is a fight.

And the good news is.

Christ has already declared victory.

 

 

 

A Simple Little Prayer

Dear Lord,

Direct my soul to your love. Give me the strength to let go. Fill me with the courage to choose You over myself. Calm my restless heart. Remind me that the Holy Spirit is with me on this journey. Thank you Lord, for your presence. Refocus my gaze on You alone. Give me the ability to recognize my weakness and use it as a force of faith. Tear down the walls I have placed around my heart. Walls that block me from You. Walls that block me from my true self. Walls that prevent me from loving my neighbor as myself. Lord, water me like a flower. You are my sunlight. Lord, I am with you in this moment.

Amen.

Do You Talk to Yourself?

I have a problem.

And I bet I am not the only one who has it.

It is a problem in my prayer life.

Days like today, the problem has shown it’s face.

There are times when I catch myself…

praying to myself.

What do I mean by this?

Well, during my prayers I find myself talking to myself not to God, which is the whole point of prayer.

In moments of silence I find myself telling myself

what I NEED…

what I SHOULD have…

were I MUST go…

why I WILL succeed…

etc.

My prayers are not mighty arrows of trust, faith, and hope sent to my Father in Heaven.

Nope.

They are whispers to myself that flow in one ear and out the other causing more distress each time they circle.

They are stagnant wishes and faithless pursuits.

Prayer is a mirror my friends.

It is a way for us to send our thoughts, discomforts, and struggles to God. He will send us the reflection with all the earthly junk mail stripped out. Through prayer God will send us the filtered truth. This will allow us to live in a way that glorifies His name.

However, when we pray to ourselves the prayers sit in our minds like dust balls growing larger and larger. We become more confused. We become restless. We lose hope in God.

All because we are afraid to let go.

In true prayer, there is a letting go process.

We let go of our concept of time by falling into the eternal love of a God who loves us.

We let go of our ways and trust His plan for us.

We let go of our need to speak and we listen.

One way to test if you are praying to yourself is to see how you feel after prayer. Assess if prayer has made you MORE anxious, MORE restless, and MORE fearful. If this is the case, these feelings are not from God and stem from an internal dialogue with yourself instead of an external dialogue with your Creator.

Friends, I encourage you to watch for this problem next time you have your hands folded.

Ask yourself, “Am I praying to my Savior or myself?”

It is time we let go and let God.

And stop talking to ourselves. Because our conversations with the Creator are the only way we will find peace in such a hurting world.