Prayer – Top 10 Reasons Not To (Part 1)
The March 2015 issue of Liguorian Magazine featured an article by Jerome Kropp entitled, “The Top Ten Excuses Not To Pray.” A number of items listed by Kropp were mentioned by a number of people when we held our panel discussion on prayer earlier this year. Let’s look at five of the reasons this week and look at the top 5 next week.
#10 – “I don’t know where or how to start.”
Well, start by asking God for help. “Ok Lord, what do I do?” God will send the Holy Spirit and God’s inspiration – usually in the form of a thought – will enter into your mind. Begin there and see where the mental conversation with the Lord leads.
#9 – I don’t really know how to pray. All I know about prayer is what I learned as a child – the Our Father, Hail Mary, you know. And what exactly is wrong with that by the way?”
Let’s start with the second point first. No prayer is beneath anyone’s dignity. The Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary are scripturally-based and powerful expressions of prayer. You can certainly start with them then add three additional items; “Thank you for this Lord; Help me in this area Lord; I’m sorry for this Lord.” God hears and loves any and all prayers – even – or perhaps better – especially ones that are short and simple (Look at Matthew 6:5-16)
#8 – I’m not sure I have the right motivation. It’s easier to pray when I’m afraid or desperate. Shouldn’t one pray simply out of a sincere desire to be closer to God?
First – God doesn’t focus on your technique. God is concerned with the heart – where ever that heart is. Saint Mother Terese used to say, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.” Start where you are. Try, “God, help me to desire to pray according to your will.” But what if you aren’t sure of God’s will for you? Say, “God, help me to know your will.” God will send the Holy Spirit to guide and deepen your prayer. Your inexperience, reluctance, lack of clarity might be an issue for you, It isn’t an issue for God. Second – there is something to be said about persistence. Look at Luke 18:1-8 and the “Parable of the Persistant Woman.” Your prayer might stumble, become distracted or uninspired. Stick to it and just say the next prayer. Third – Don’t be too concerned about the correctness of your motivation. Purely selfish prayer is hard to keep up over the long-run. Keep on praying. God will purify your intentions over time.
#7 – Who am I to presume that God – the creator of the universe – wants to hear from me, especially the mundane details of my life. Isn’t that a source of pride?
Not really. Pride would be not acknowledging that we are the way that God intended us to be. Pride is thinking that the particular mess that you have created is far beyond God’s help. This is also a trick of the devil – “You’re not worthy. Why bother praying?” That just takes us away from our relationship with God. Jesus was always exhorting the “addicted, the afflicted, the angry and the anxious” to turn to the Father in prayer. Not sure where to start? Simply grab a bible and start reading the Gospels. That’s prayer and a connection to God through His “Word.” The door is always wide open – “Just say the word, Lord, and I shall be healed.”
Next week we will look at the reasons #4, #5, and #6 why people don’t pray.