When I Can’t Pray

It’s difficult for me to pray when I’m pregnant.

I don’t know why, but it happens each time. I always run into one problem or another: I feel like I’m talking to myself or I am too tired to set aside time to get it done or the words just won’t come to me or my mind wanders or I fall asleep mid-prayer.

At some point in each pregnancy, I show up to my spiritual director’s office and tell her I can’t pray. I tell her I desperately need her help. I tell her that I know the problem: I’m just plain lazy and it doesn’t help that I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I tell her I don’t know why I can’t snap out of it and I’m worried that I’m one lazy day away from ruining my relationship with Christ. I expect for her to give me a good talkin’ to. I think she’ll tell me to stop being lazy. I hope she’ll beat me into submission one way or another.

She never does. She is always gentle with me. She always pushes me to be gentle with myself. She suggests I stop trying so hard and stop beating myself up when my trying isn’t feeling fruitful. And then she says something that is revolutionary to me. Something that seems way too easy. Something that sounds like a cop out, if I’m being honest. She tells me to stop fighting and to just allow myself to feel God’s love. Stop doing and just be. Let God do. Let Him “breathe for you, hold you, stroke you, and help you through.”

It just seems too easy. It makes me feel uncomfortable, actually. Surely this woman (who is the wisest soul I’ve ever met) is wrong and I am right. I just need to keep pushing myself. Keep working. Keep fighting. Keep beating myself up, right? Wrong.

Picture courtesy of Rosary Castle. Custom made rosaries available on etsy at link above.

I’m in mass and I’ve just received Him and I kneel to pray. I know this time is important. I know He is as close to me as He will be in this life and I need to take advantage of the opportunity. Say something. Say anything, Diana. And nothing comes.

I am kneeling and silent. My eyes are closed and still nothing comes. I try to force something and it feels yucky and fake and He knows that. So I sit silently with my eyes closed and feel the burn of the Precious Blood in my throat and pay attention to how it feels and savor the taste. We are silent. He and I. We are kneeling here with our eyes tightly shut and we are silent.

And, it hits me. We’ve reached the point in our relationship where we can sit silently together and be comfortable. There are no awkward silences any longer. It is just He and I and silence and peace and comfort. And this is how it is. And it’s ok that this is how it is. I do not need to fight to make it what it is not.

He is calling me, begging me, to Just Be Held. He is hoping I will fall completely into His arms. And I’m so glad that today, in this moment, I am giving myself permission to just go limp in His arms. To just be.


4 thoughts on “When I Can’t Pray”

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