Very often it seems like the only time I pray is when I am forced to pray. It’s like Job or Elijah. When things get SO BAD (in my perception at least) that there is no other recourse, then I will pray. Unless, of course, I don’t have the energy. So my prayers become much closer to a 911 call than an ongoing conversation.
I wish it were not so. I wish I were more disciplined in my prayers. But I’m not and I can’t seem to figure out how to do it. My prayers are weak and timid. They are fearful and uncertain. My best prayers come when I am too desperate to do anything else.
So often my prayers make me feel like I am a fraud. I project the air of quiet faith and confidence to my parishioners. I sit in the hospital with them, console them with the Gospel which I hardly feel like I believe half the time.
I think this is all too common with pastors. Faith and doubt go hand in hand. There can hardly be one without the other this side of the grave.
I think a part of the problem lies in feeling like prayer is a show. So often for pastors, because we are called upon to publicly pray for others, it means that the prayers we offer are half prayer/half proclamation. Prayers can offer comfort, and we pastors will use any trick in the book to sneak in a little Gospel. But this can lead to making prayer feel like a show. I have to have a “good” prayer, because they are counting on me.
How do you counteract this? What is the actual goal of prayer?
I’m sorry I have more questions than answers today. Some days are just like that.
-DMR (aka Todd Peperkorn)