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  • Writer's pictureMonica Walton

Imperfect Prayer

My daily Prayer Time is imperfect.

I want to improve my prayer process. I want to be better at praying.

I want to get closer to God and have open heart conversations with Him.

Essentially, that's what prayer is -- a dialogue with the Lord.

So, how do I pray? How do YOU pray?

My personal prayer process has varied greatly over my lifetime. As a small child, I repeated the words without really understanding them. I grew older and memorized the traditional prayers we all know. My oldest sister taught me to focus by picturing the scenes laid out in the prayers when we prayed together each night before bed. In college, I began praying a daily rosary -- especially when exams were approaching. As a young professional, I would pray a rosary on my drive into work and again on my drive home from work. When I became a mother with minimal quiet or free time, I had trouble staying awake to pray once the children were all tucked into bed. So, I developed the routine of praying a rosary on my daily walks just as my Daddy did for years. Naturally, throughout all of these phases of life there were additional prayers sprinkled into my days before meals, at first waking, as I settled down to sleep, when someone was seriously ill, to begin road trips, listening to worship music, reading books and articles, attending Mass, etc.

But, then when the days were less demanding and I could carve out sacred quiet time, a shift happened. I began reading brilliant teachings on prayer and attended retreats by some great prayer leaders. That is when I discovered the immense depth and richness that is possible and available in certain forms of prayer such as Lectio Divina and Contemplative Prayer. I discovered a real and personal connection with God as Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Maturity, openness, and guidance brought about this new experience and my prayer life was forever changed.

In this portion of my journey, my prayer is no longer mainly a list of petitions and memorized rote prayers. Oh, I still ask God for specific graces and blessings, and I still appreciate and offer traditional prayers each day. But, now I also make space for silence, listening, praising, adoring, spontaneity, discovery, inspiration. I crave it because I have a genuine trust that He is with me, listening, loving, and leading me. My words fall short of grasping the beauty of my relationship with the One who created me. I am certain it is different for each one of us. He created each person uniquely, so He most assuredly communicates with each of us in a unique manner.

My prayer time is and always will be imperfect....

I get distracted,

I get needy,

I get refocused,

I get discouraged,

I get sleepy,

I get joyful,

I get weepy,

....I could produce an extensive list of other adjectives describing the imperfections in my prayer time. But, I believe it is all perfectly fine because the One with whom we dialogue in prayer is perfect. He lives in each of us and lifts us above our imperfections. We have not yet been redeemed and made whole & perfect. That will come when we enter eternal life in God's Kingdom. Then, we all shall know perfect prayer and praise in His presence. Until that glorious day, He continues to patiently love and guide us.

I love this quote from Thomas Merton,

and I have it hanging on the wall near my computer:

"My deepest me is always God."

We all need this reminder.

In this week's Liturgy, we are reading about a very prayerful, imperfect man in Scripture named Tobit. He was a faithful and good man who cared for the needy. He fasted and prayed for his friends and family. He did many good things. But, he was imperfect. Sometimes when things got tense or didn't go as he hoped, he got testy. Sometimes he got angry. Sometimes he said cruel things to his wife, who lovingly cared for him and provided for their family when Tobit could not. His marriage sounds like a fairly "normal" marriage with moments of impatience and less than perfect love. We are usually most comfortable with the ones we love the most, and for some peculiar reason we can be more unloving and unforgiving toward them than toward strangers. The person we love the most can become the target and victim of our anger, frustrations, and impatience.

We can also become angry, frustrated, and impatient with Jesus, at times. We may lash out at Him when things go awry and life feels unfair. We aren't perfect. But, guess what -- it's perfectly OK, as long as we recognize when we are in that space and allow Jesus to love us through it to the better space of who we are meant to be. Our loved ones will hopefully hang with us and love us through those moments, also. We aren't perfect.

Jesus IS perfect. He taught us how to pray perfectly and how to love perfectly. And in living as His human self, He also expressed anger and frustration at times. Remember the Gospel passage from Mark 11:11-26 last Friday?

This Scripture passage tells us that Jesus was hungry when He and the Twelve were leaving Bethany. Jesus saw a fig tree and went over to eat some figs.

(I would do the same, even if I wasn't hungry. I love to eat fresh figs straight off the tree.) When Jesus reached the tree He saw there wasn't any fruit on it, only leaves since it was early in the season. He said to that fruitless fig tree, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” Sure enough, that poor tree withered to its roots! When I read that Reading last week, the slang term "hangry" came to mind. (being so hungry that you get angry = hangry) Jesus must have been "hangry" at that moment. 😅

We are imperfect. We must continue to pray our imperfect prayers -- even when we're feeling distracted, needy, discouraged, sleepy, joyful, weepy, or hangry. We offer Him our imperfect prayers and Jesus will love us through it!

So, how should WE pray?

Pray with His Word in Scripture, pray the traditional memorized prayers, say His name over and over, pray alone, pray with others, ask Him to teach us how to pray. Any attempt to connect with Father, Son, Holy Spirit in silence, listening, praising, adoring will bring new discoveries and inspirations that will enrich our life. Remember, John 17:20 teaches us that Jesus is praying for us !!! He's always ready and waiting to meet us in conversation.

Whatever way you pray will be perfectly fine!

Just do something to pray every day -- no matter how imperfect if feels!

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07. Juni 2023
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Lovely reflection …….and how true it is ……. Imperfect prayer is the very best we can come to at times quite often indeed ……. But the grace is he is making Himself present any time I call on Him……. So nothing is ever wasted.

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Monica Walton
Monica Walton
30. Juni 2023
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Amen! Thank you for your insight! God bless!

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