Truthful Prayer: Why is it so Difficult?
I used to pray to God like I was at an interview. I would state my good deeds as qualifications, I would use proper sentences and good diction when framing my thoughts and I would only expose the best sides of me so that God would be impressed. I guess you could say I was pretty naive thinking that God could only see what I chose to show Him. After much frustration, anxiety and anger at God for not hearing my prayers, I decided to try something else. I went to Eucharistic Adoration for the first time by myself and realized that being face to face with Jesus allowed no room for facades and masks. I had to strip down my prayers, I had to simplify, de-intellectualize and clear my thoughts so that I could show Jesus my struggling heart. Carlo Carretto, an amazing theologian, writes: “Put yourself in front of Jesus as a poor man: not with any big ideas, but with living faith. Remain motionless in an act of love before the Father. Don’t try to reach God with your understanding; that is impossible. Reach him in love; that is possible.”
I think that is the key. When we try to talk to anyone without love but with rigidness and cold facts, there is no room for reciprocity or relationship. Adoration does not allow rigidness. Adoration peels away your layers and exposes your true self to Jesus, a broken self. As Jesus humbled Himself to become broken bread for us, we too need to break away from our pride, fear and illusions. But this is really difficult. No prayer is so difficult as the adoration of the Eucharist. I feel like my whole natural strength rebels against it. I fall into distraction, day dreaming, naps, list- making, ANYTHING to delay this process of self- reflection and self-exposition.
The reason why Adoration is so difficult is because our senses, memory, and imagination, are all repressed. We cannot imagine or go back to a memory where we liked ourselves because at Adoration, we are faced with our present self, with who we are right now, and we need to deal with that stark reality. Faith alone triumphs in Adoration, and faith is hard. Carretto also writes: “To place oneself before what seems to be bread and to say, ‘Christ is there living and true,’ is pure faith. But nothing is more nourishing than pure faith, and prayer in faith is real prayer.”
We are such a visual and physical generation. We look for external delights and fixate on them until they consume us from the inside out. Adoration does not allow for external delights, it brings internal delights that are expose us to vulnerability, inner nakedness and hard truth.
When we renounce all external desire and satisfaction, at Adoration by putting down our phones, iPads and other means of fulfillment, we are stripping away the parts of ourselves that were never meant to be there in the first place. When we are free from this burden, our prayer becomes strong and real. We are made to meet God beyond the senses, beyond the imagination, beyond nature. We are made to seek beauty and truth. This is where we can find it! Magazines and television do not show us what true beauty is, they just set up unreal expectations for us to abide by. It is only in true prayer that we can be set free and able to move on from our past pain. Jeremiah 17:9 states “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jesus can! He knows your heart perfectly. He knows your desires, your fears, and he wants to help you find true joy. Offer up your prayers in a true way and He will listen. Whether you are praying about that job you want, your future vocation, your family life, your struggles with purity- if you lift them up and give them to Him, Jesus will be there to catch you and give you a glimpse of His plan for you.
If we continue to treat prayer like a vending machine, and pray only when and how we want to, our life of prayer will be unfulfilling and will not be able to sustain us. Like an old car, our prayer life will run in fits and starts. The slightest setback will be enough to break our prayer life. it is not what God wants from us, but what God wants for us. God wants us to live a full life full of joy and love. When we magnify Him and magnify ourselves less, we slowly get closer to His heart.
So let’s ditch the interview prayer style and strive for something more authentic. Jesus is always waiting for you and pursuing your heart. Visit him today and see what He has in store for you!