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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frustration in Prayer

I think we have made the case for a "sacramental" world the last few posts. One where actions that can be seen (like a kiss) convey deeper meaning (like love). If God is also at work "in and through" the world, then His activity will not be obvious. His activity will be open to interpetation. It will take faith to find Him there at all.

I plan to continue to write about sacraments later. However today I want to share some personal things about prayer. As I think I have written before, I have spent a great deal of time praying in my life. As a young man I thought that when I was older I would be close to God and really experience remarkable things. The truth is my prayer is very mundane and often not too exciting. I sometimes feel like it is a struggle. I thought I would have some level of intimate contact which, as of today, does not seem to have happened.

The last week reflecting upon the sacramental world has helped me understand this better. I think that the sacrament is also a barrier. It draws us in yet keeps us away. There are times of close connection when I have heard people say "I could just eat you up." Usually it is affection, sometimes for a small child, which is the motivation for saying this. I believe the language image reveals the hunger we have for connection. It also shows the frustration of not being closer. The desire to "be one with" is very real. Most of us, by middle age, are worn down by the frustration. The disappointment of unfulfilled love makes us less enthusiastic.

Commitment to prayer is like that. I remember long ago being told that our prayer life really creates more frustrtation. We increase our hunger for God without fulfilling it. There is reason to believe that once we pass over into His presence then all the empty places will be filled. So frustration now is good. It is a hollowing out and a preparing for consummation. Sacraments mediate God's presence (be it a flower, or wind, or a church event), but some day our contact will be immediate. We will see through to the face of God. In the meantime, we livef faithfully and try to see as best we can.

1 comment:

  1. This article has really addressed where I am. My frustration has grown to the point that I don't believe prayer is of any value for me, they don't appear to rise above the ceiling. I feel like the child of a wealthy man who is obscenely generous with gifts/blessings but isn't present (doesn't have time) for me. Thank you for sharing your experiences with such candor. I am really benefitting from your blog.