When praying becomes difficult

Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

I do find praying to be very difficult at times. There are days when I am quite not eager to meet Him. It could be the flesh being weak. It could be because life, at times, I feel is not fair. There are days when I feel like, just slouching.

When praying becomes quite trying, I talk to God expressing how I truly feel at that moment. Tired. Desperate. Sad. Reluctant. I am never afraid to ask, “God I find it difficult to connect with You now. Where are you?”.

Can it be that my pained wondering in that moment, is prayer in itself?

When I am truthful, I find more meaning in my prayer. There is absolutely no point in me sugarcoating it – God knows and understands me well. I know I can’t hide anything from Him, even my deep-seated emotions.

During lockdown last year, I wrote a children’s book called, “God our Father, Are You Divorcing Me Too?”. In the book, a child expresses his heartbreak over news of his parents’ divorce. He describes his anger, despair and sadness using imageries such as a volcano erupting, a grazing of his knee or a lamb which is lost. The book reminds me of what prayer should be like.

Prayer should be a baring of one’s soul; a no-holds-barred, unrehearsed conversation with God. He knows our struggles and He never looks at our misgivings or doubts but always looks forward to every conversation we have with Him.

Excessive complaining and how it could ail our souls

When we grumble a lot, we become arrogant people thinking we deserve better more than what God has provided us and blessed us, with. When we complain a lot, we rely on our own understanding and deny the great wisdom that is of God’s.

Over breakfast, my elder daughter, looking anxious, blurted out she had a dream that it was the start of school. “That was not a dream, that was a nightmare!”, whinged my younger one.

That is so true for many of us. Depending on which part of the world we are from, Christmas is season of joy, especially if we have that two-week break and luckier, if we have a month-long one. Coming from this long hiatus, we dread going back to the normalcy of work.

I am not going to lie but I do share my daughters’ sentiments . Sometimes, I succumb to grumbling, myself. The only difference is that I do not speak it loud. I hid it in the innermost part of me, challenge that whinging sign of discontent and later, quell it. I ask myself, “what difference is complaining going to make?”. Halting the thought of discontent, thoughts grumbling become mere clouds hovering above me, passing before my eyes, and moving until it no longer matters and words of complaint, no longer spoken.

Whinging, grumbling, moaning, “reklamo (Filipino term)” or complaining, has sadly been, becoming a culture. A habit. A really bad, bad, bad habit. Like Thor hammering it away, I usually find myself gathering enough strength and momentum to break that habit, myself.

Complaining a lot, we do not realise, could be a sign of things that could be ailing our souls.

When we grumble and express discontent over our supposed blessings (i.e. our job, roof on our heads, food on our table), we declare that we deserve better – a better job, better looks, better house, better spouse, steak rather than fish, I-phone 12 over its countless predecessors. We yearn to be in some other place rather than we we are. On a couch. On a holiday cruise. In a restaurant. When we grumble a lot, we become arrogant people thinking we deserve better more than what God has provided us and blessed us, with. When we complain a lot, we rely on our own understanding and deny the great wisdom that is of God’s.

Grumbling and feeling we deserve better, is subtly, pride. In Proverbs 16:5, we are reminded not to be arrogant and proud:

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Excessive complaining, is lack of trust, lurking in the dark. Jesus spoke about trust in John 14:1:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

If we are truly who we say we are, believers and practitioners of God’s divine wisdom, then we must keep our grumbling and complaining at bay and under control, if not fully extinguished.

I can only imagine how excessive complaining could lead us to the worst and how it could consume and turn us to sinful arrogance, pride, sloth and greed. I, myself, will stomp on the habit of complaining even before it gets up my easily-swayed brain. How about you?

God is constant across all generations.

Pain and loss, unfortunately, could not skip a generation and it certainly, is not skipping this one. In all these, it is God’s spirit which remains constant.

Taken from the book “God Our Father, Are You Divorcing Me, Too?” which I wrote, is one of the beautiful illustrations by Filipino illustrator, JJ Duran. 

The picture seems like a picture of surrendering, of defeat. Different generations have seen defeat or loss in massive ways. I am not going to compare it with world wars or the Spanish flu of the past generations because I can only imagine the pain experienced by people who lived in that era, but COVID 19 has been causing so much solitude, loss and tremendous anxiety for people of this present generation. Factor in our own very personal pains from loss of jobs or broken relationships and you have a very bleak picture in your head.

This picture takes me back to the spirit of God, though. We are born with that spirit. It lives in us. I think we need not even ask God for strength because I always say God, himself is strength. I know it because, no matter how hard I find it to get up in the morning, I always say, “God you are in me.” and there goes my feet off to the world. Pain and loss, unfortunately, could not skip a generation and it certainly, is not skipping this one. In all these, it is God’s spirit which remains constant. He was there in the past; He will be in the future and He is in the present. He is now in the fighter in each and everyone of us.