Sometimes we are tempted to stop praying because it “doesn’t seem like anything is happening.” That is, our prayer may feel boring, confusing, or useless. Sometimes these are just the normal phases of our own moods at work. It might be that God is inviting us to begin praying in a renewed or different way.( For example, some people pray while walking, write prayers in a journal, join a prayer group, meditate on bible passages, or like to pray in silence.)
These words of Evagrius, famous Christian of the 4th century, bring me comfort at those times when my prayer seems “boring” or “ineffective.”
In the quotation above, Evagrius refers to some mysterious process happening inside us when we pray–some invisible action deep in our souls. When someone prays, even if alone in his or her room, that person is not really alone. The Holy Spirit, the very presence of God in our midst, is with the praying soul.
When we open our hearts to God in prayer, the Holy Spirit is at work in our souls, in our whole persons, transforming us, like water slowly dripping on a rock. The Holy Spirit also fills us with the spirit of love and compassion for others during prayer time. As a result, this Spirit of Love also draws us more deeply into relationship with God and other people, a kind of communion with God and each other.
So, no matter how “futile” your prayer might feel, continue to pray. It’s important not to give up. If you think God is inviting you to a newer way of praying, seek out that new way–just so long as you keep praying. (Oftentimes, a spiritual director can help you seek out the way of praying that God is inviting you to at this point in your life.)
So, “keep on praying” . . . and until next time, Amen!