Prayer: Links and a Quote
Old Woman Praying,
by Nicholas Maes
Prayer is irksome. Any excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a cross-word puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us.Lewis goes on to explain that prayer is like other duties--the duty exists to be transcended:
And we know that we are not alone in this. The fact that prayers are constantly set as penances tells its own tale.
The odd thing is that this reluctance to pray is not confined to periods of dryness. When yesterday's prayers were full of comfort and exaltation, to-day's will still be felt as, in some degree, a burden.
Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is that it should be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever'. And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?
Here is the paradox of Christianity.... I must say my prayers today whether I feel devout or not; but that is only as I must learn my grammar if I am ever to read the poets.
....I am therefore not deeply worried by the fact that prayer is at present a duty, and even an irksome one. This is humiliating. It is frustrating. It is terribly time-wasting--the worse one is at praying, the longer one's prayers take. But we are still only at school.... And even now--how can I weaken the words enough, how speak at all without exaggeration?--we have what seem rich moments.