There are times when I cannot pray. I mean really pray. I mean talk with God like I mean it. In those times I do a lot of other things. Sometimes I don't even attempt a prayer. Other times I fall into some rote prayer expression that feels every bit as meaningless as it probably is. There are times when I read Walter Brueggemann's prayers. Sometimes I just get busy doing something that can register as productive or meaningful. Still other times I just sit there like a writer with an extreme case of writer's block. Nope, got nothing.
I have seen couples at a restuarant unable to utter a word to each other. I watch and wonder what is the depth of their intimacy. I wonder whether they are angry with each other or whether the life has drained from their relationship. I wonder a lot of things and none of them are good. And sometimes my prayer life looks like that couple who can't find a single word to say to each other.
Prayer, what can be a simple conversation, a desperate wail, a deep confiding, an intimate connection, an expression of gratitude, an attentive listening, can also sometimes be a sort of awkward moment, an uncomfortable social situation - it can feel like a blind date mismatch.
I wish for prayer to be easier, more in the flow of my life. I wish for the mere experience of something to fling me automatically into prayer, like the thing that happened that I cannot wait to share and then I do share and turn MY experience into OUR experience. And sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. I wish the very angst I feel, the joy the bursts within me, the laughter that explodes, the hurt, the hope, the uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear, the optimism, the dreaming, the...I wish everything I think and feel was prayer.
And maybe it is, in some sense. Maybe it's all prayer. Maybe having an intermittent prayer disability is not some new thing or the dashboard light indicating low faith. Perhaps I am not alone to shoulder the responsibility of prayer. Perhaps...
"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." - Romans 8:26