Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
A friend who had spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from surgery confided to me that he had found it difficult to pray while in the hospital. His mind was occupied with concerns about the surgery. His body was experiencing pain. His nerves were frayed by visitors who overstayed their welcome. Once he returned home, he found it much easier to give himself over to time for prayer.
This is not an uncommon experience. Prayer can be likened to a conversation with God, a chance to listen to God as well as a chance to share our needs and concerns. When one's attention is diverted by someone or something else, the conversation becomes difficult. It takes great discipline and practice to hand oneself over to prayer when our bodies are distracting us.
There are other times when we simply do not know what to say. Confusion has muddled our thought processes. We are pulled in different directions and cannot be sure which is the best course of action. I am reminded of the apostles who are trying to replace Judas after the resurrection. They resort to casting lots to choose between two likely candidates. Scripture scholars point to this as an example of relying on the Holy Spirit to make the choice.
Indeed, St. Paul tells us today that the Holy Spirit is much better at prayer than we are. The Holy Spirit knows what we need and what we need to say. Relying upon the Holy Spirit is often times the best source of prayer. Simply dwelling in the presence of the Trinity can be a prayerful experience.
St. Clare of Assisi remarks in her writings that the desire to pray is in itself a prayer. Sometimes that is all we can offer – the widow's mite, as it were. However, St. Paul assures us that this is indeed enough if we simply rely on the Spirit to fill in what may be missing.