Good Reasons for Avoiding Prayer

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I have a million of them:

It's too hot outside
It's too cold.

I volunteer for the Church.
I need to volunteer for the Church.

I'm reading about it so I can do it better.
I'm reading about it so I can see how others do it.
I'm reading about it so I don't have to do it but can still say I pray.

I'm writing about it to inform others.
I'm writing about it to inform myself.
I'm writing about it so I can avoid actually doing it.

I need to take the dog for a walk.
Oh gosh, I don't even have a dog.
Well, I guess I can take the hamster for a walk.
Or the fish.
Heck, I need to take a walk, and heaven knows you can't pray while doing nothing.

I'm not in the right place.
I'm in the perfect place but it is too beautiful.

I'm not in the mood.
God doesn't listen anyway.
I'm only talking to myself.

I have work to do.
I need to wash dishes.
I need to clean the house.
I need to play games with Samuel.
I need to wash the car. (Ha, in all the cars I've ever owned sponge has not touched metal--but it sure rings true as an excuse.)

I'm too sad.
I'm too stressed.
I'm too happy.

I need my space--why does God need me constantly pawing at Him anyway?
God need's His space, He's tired of hearing the same old things.

I'm too sinful.
I'm too tired.
I'm too bored.
I'm too nostalgic.
I'm too . . .

It's too nice a day to remain indoors with a musty old book.
This musty old book is far too interesting to allow myself to become distracted with mere communication.
I'm not good enough.
I don't love enough.

But all of these boil down to one thing. I don't care enough. When God is the priority, all of these excuses melt into opportunities for prayer. But making God a priority is often not a priority with me. I distract myself endlessly with myself. I have a million million concerns and all of them take precedence.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you. (Matt 6:33)

It isn't a suggestion, it's reality. This is the law I live. God is either first in my life or He is nothing. He is either present in my thoughts, the first word on my lips, or He is so far down the list of priorities He can't even be seen. Can you guess where He winds up most of the time?

I'd like to say I was Martha in a Mary world. But the reality is, if I look at it very closely, I can't even claim to be a Martha. How much of my busyness is really directed at service to the Lord and His people? How much of each day is devoted to serving others?

And you know, despite all of this, despite my own reluctance, despite my own shying away from God, still He invites me in. Still He calls to me and keeps calling until any human voice must be hoarse. Still He welcomes me and makes a place for me by His side. Still He is the Father who loves me and who waits patiently for my love. He waits for the distractions and baubles of the world to lose their glamor. He waits. And all the while He waits, He sends me His messengers of love, His constant and overflowing love for me is present every day and every moment of every day.

And someday I may pay attention. Grace will prevail despite my wiliest resources. Someday I will turn to God first. This I know because He has promised it.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. . . (Matt 7:7)

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Excellent point. You mentioned my continuous excuse as well as why it doesn't stand up.

One of my difficulties with prayer is it feels like I'm not praying. I'm basically lecturing myself on the need to improve rather than communicating or in being in any way receptive.

The devil doesn't want you to pray no matter what. Don't let yourself get too scrupulous about it.
If you can't do it out of desire, do it out of duty. You can actually obtain more graces that way.

This lesson I learned from a very pious priest.

The same goes for confession. If you aren't feeling especially sorry for a sin, but know you need to confess, you still can out of obedience.

Ok, thanks for letting me tell you something you probably already knew.

i am a martha :) i understand all of it, all of the excuses, everything you said.

and it is all truth.

thank you for something very timely...

Dear Scarlette,

You are so right. And you know, it doesn't really matter if we already know it--there are some home truths worth repeating and repeating. After all, this blog is one endless repetition of the same theme. It has a relatively small audience, but from all I can tell, a fairly loyal one, so the constant repetition must strike a chord. I know it helps me.

Dear Martha,

Yes, I wish I could say I was a Martha, but that would imply too much about my busyness. At least Martha was busy serving the Lord. Too often, I pretend to be Martha, but the only one served is Steven. But you know what? I'm not down about it. Like AA, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward solving it. So it is my hope and prayer that grace transforms me so that I could really say I'm a Martha--it's one first step to becoming a Mary. (If I'm lucky, He'll decide to Mary me without dragging me through the Martha stage. We'll see. :-))



Dear TSO,

Yes--that's a major stumbling block. But as Scarlette noted, prayer, even when we don't feel like it or we don't feel it is effective, will yield great rewards. At least you are lecturing yourself, and that's a considerable advance over not praying and not particularly caring about it.

After all, what did you just do other than read my public lecture to myself? I do it all the time too. And it is occasionally helpful. And it is frequently an opportunity for grace to break in.

Nevertheless to use a hideous clintonism, "I feel your pain," and I'll remember you particularly in my prayers of the day.



found this via martha martha and loved it - but ouch - can relate too

thank you

thanks so much expressing your heart in this area. it is only when we admit where we truly are that we can see where we need to be. i - ouched - as well.


Dear M. Lorna and M. Carolyn,

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I love to find new places to hang out, and this is one of the ways I do it!



Another excellent post, Steven. As always you have the most edifying content around.

I hope it's not being a bad influence to share my favorite excuse for not praying. I know this is wrong, yet always fall into it... I trust Our Lord and Mother to know my desires and my needs better than I do.

I know that's a good attitude - except I abuse it when it comes to using it as an excuse to not pray, which is not a good thing.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 9, 2005 9:12 AM.

A Secret About Prayer was the previous entry in this blog.

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