For When You Forget How to Pray

Sometimes prayer comes so easily; other times, not so much.  When that boy breaks your heart, when you are in a fight with your best friend, when your family isn’t there for you, when everyone you are close to seems to disappear –these are the moments when prayer seems foreign.  Suddenly everything that had been holding your heart together collapses.  The hope that was keeping you alive and moving – it’s gone.  The psalmist captures this feeling pretty well when he says, “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched.  My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” (Ps 69:3).  In the midst of so much chaos sometimes we forget (literally – forget) how to pray.

Before anything else, focus on your breath.  Feel your pulse.  It’s still there.   Your heart is still beating.  This means that something is going right.  You are functioning as you should.

Then, think about what that means.  You are alive right now because the King of the Universe lovingly breathes life into your lungs.  Even when it feels like everything in your world falls apart, His love remains constant.  His love for you remains constant.

Listen to your heartbeat again and silence everything else.  Listen to how gentle it is.  The sound of a beating heart is gentle because our Lord is gentle.  He is all-powerful, yet chooses to sustain life with gentleness.  This gentleness, this tenderness is a mark of His sacred love.  It is life-giving.

When you forget how to pray, how to feel Christ’s love in the midst of chaos – it’s okay.  It’s okay because He doesn’t forget how to give His love.  A mother doesn’t abandon her tiny, little, baby daughter when she can’t seem to be comforted.  Instead, the mother holds her baby closer to her heart and rocks her even more softly while she cries.  So too does our Dearly Beloved Jesus bend down and hold you even closer to His heart.

The most important thing is not to get overwhelmed and discouraged.  It is far too common as women to shame ourselves for not being flawless images of sanctity.  The only perfect saint is the Blessed Mother.  She is perfect because God gives her the grace to be that way.  However, we must remember that even she weeps from heartbreak.  Heartbreak is not a sign of imperfection.  In fact, it is a sign of goodness.  It acknowledges that hurt and pain are real things that happen to real people (even saintly people).  Let yourself cry.  Tears are prayers too.  The psalmist prays, “My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’” (Ps 42:3). 

Listen to your heartbeat – the sound of your life.  It is Jesus whispering His love to you.  Perhaps the reason He lets this happen is so He can hold your heart even closer to His than it already was.  Perhaps this needs to happen so we stop trying to live independently of our Dearly Beloved.

Then, if nothing else, pray the psalms.  David prays, “…Thy steadfast love is better than life…” (Ps 63: 3).  The psalmists know the heart of God because they know heartbreak.