Padre’s Corner

St. Brendan’s Chapel at Stadacona.
Photo: CFB Halifax

When prayer is difficult

By Capt (Padre) PJ Vere,
Fleet Chaplain,
Canadian Fleet Atlantic

Sometimes prayer is difficult. This is true for everyone who believes in God—regardless of religion or level of devotion practiced.

Even as a chaplain I struggle to focus while praying. Just making time for prayer is an act of self-discipline.

This usually happens when I am tired, or when life has become too fast with work or family responsibilities pressing in.

My first temptation is to set aside prayer time and devote myself exclusively to resolving these other urgencies.

I forget how much I need time alone with God to express my human need for a loving relationship with my creator.

This is when I must remind myself that I am not alone in the struggle to pray.

Jesus Himself struggled to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.

On the night before His crucifixion, while those closest to him slept unaware of what was to come, Jesus was so overcome by anxiety and depression that He sweated drops of blood.

Jesus’ struggle during His time of prayer stood out to St. Luke as a physician—that is, a medical doctor in the ancient Middle East—who recorded this detail in his gospel account of Christ’s death and resurrection.

In other words, even Jesus found prayer difficult when He needed it most.

Therefore, we as less-than-perfect believers should not be harsh on ourselves when we too struggle to come before God and pray.
No student is greater than his or her master, Jesus gently reminds us. He understands when we struggle to pray.

Thus we need only remember that prayer is about conversing with God, Who already knows each of our needs and desires.

For as one wise ancient Christian stated, “God does not listen to the exact words of our prayers but to the love in our hearts when we put forward the effort to pray.”