Dedication to Prayer by Karen

Dark Night of the Soul
by St. John of the Cross
Prayer is a battle, that is a fact.  Not only have I learned this from my own experiences, but I've also read about the lifelong challenges that countless saints had maintaining their dedication to prayer.  St. Teresa of Avila said that "all the trials we endure cannot be compared to the interior battles."  St. John of the Cross wrote about the "dark night of the soul" as he described the spiritual dryness which leaves one unable to feel God's presence for extended periods of time.  Before St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta began her mission she had incredibly powerful encounters with the Lord which included visions and audible conversations; however, everything came to a screeching halt after she arrived in India.  She is quoted as saying, "the silence and the emptiness are so great, that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear."  She experienced spiritual emptiness for over 40 years, and yet she persevered in prayer and selfless service.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2725) clearly states that "prayer is a battle" and that "the spiritual battle of the Christian life is inseparable from the battle of prayer".

Maintaining a routine of daily prayer is hard...really hard, but it's necessary for our spiritual health.  When people say that they don't have time, what they're really saying is that other things are more important.  I encourage you to make the Lord a priority in your life; to dedicate yourself to a routine of personal prayer.  

As Leonard Ravenhill said, "prayer is not a preparation for the battle, it is the battle".  

Being faithful to our commitment to daily prayer requires us to fight each battle as it comes: the battle against distractions that prevent us from focusing on the Lord, the battle against the temptation to "do it later", the battle against disappointment, frustration and other emotions that might arise when we can't hear the Lord, we can't feel His presence, and it seems like He isn't answering our prayers.  At times, personal prayer leaves us feeling peaceful, encouraged, and full of joy.  Other times, we experience confusion, sadness, or worse yet... empty nothingness.  That's normal.  

The most important thing is that we remain faithful to whatever commitment we've made to ourselves and to Jesus because we never know when He's going to surprise us with something incredible.

Woody Allen once said that "90% of life is just showing up".  

I've been thinking about this idea of "just showing up" for the last month or so as I've been doing my personal prayer.  I awake extra early so that I have adequate quiet time before the rest of my family gets up.  As I watch the sunrise, I share whatever is on my heart with Jesus.  Now, keep in mind that when I'm lying in bed I have no idea whether the sunrise is going to be brilliant or blah.  I have to get out of bed, go out to the porch, and wait.  Sometimes I can tell from the first glimpse of color that the sky is going to transform into a stunning palette.  Other times it seems like nothing special, but ends up being spectacular.  And of course, there are the days that are nothing but cloudy grey skies.  This is all very analogous to my prayer time.  Some days it seems like it's going to be great, but I end up feeling empty and alone.  Other days I begin my prayers out of obligation, feeling certain that I'm just going to have a one-sided conversation, and then something really powerful happens.  Just like my inability to predict the prettiness of the sunrise, I have no way of knowing what the Lord has for me on a given day.  The most important thing is that I show up, do my best to give Him my attention and love, and trust that He's going to give me exactly what I need that day.  

Following are some photos of the sunrises I saw as I sat on my front porch contemplating the importance of just showing up. 

 
  

Here's the sunrise that I saw this morning.  It's nothing spectacular, but I'm glad that I got up to see it because the Lord had some really beautiful things to share with me as I watched Him paint the sky.  

 
I will be praying that you choose to fight the prayer battle; that you remember to call upon the most powerful name of Jesus to help you overcome every temptation and every distraction that tries to keep you from spending quiet time alone with Him every single day.  I will be praying that your commitment to prayer is real and that you make your relationship with the Lord a top priority in your life.

May God bless you in abundance this day.
Love, Karen  

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