The struggle to pray

My own yetzer ha-ra often has me fiddling with matters electronic rather than keeping up with work, so this will be a short post. 🙂

As it seems she does so often, the Velveteen Rabbi has once again posted something that really resonates with me:

My yetzer ha-ra doesn’t want me to daven shacharit.

Okay, I don’t really imagine that I have a personified evil (or chaotic) impulse, perched on my shoulder and whispering bitchy nothings in my ear. But there is definitely something in me that resists doing the things I know will make me more grounded.

Like regular prayer. I set my alarm. I wake up on time. I putter around and make myself a cup of tea. And as the appointed hour for davenen draws near, my yetzer ha-ra starts throwing excuses at me, reasons why I can’t possibly daven this morning.

I have too much to do. There are things I haven’t taken care of. Bills and dishes. Plus there’s that paper that’s going to be due next week, right after I get back from the Rabbis for Human Rights conference, which I should really be working on now! Besides, I’m distracted. I won’t have good focus. (See above, re: bills and dishes and paper deadlines. ) I can pray tomorrow when I’m more in the mood. God won’t really mind if I miss a day; God knows where I’m at, God understands.

Well, of course God understands. But that’s not remotely the point, is it? Prayer primes the pump of gratitude, and awareness, and praise. Prayer keeps my spiritual muscles stretched and ready. And, like writing, prayer shouldn’t be a luxury to be engaged in when I happen to feel so moved; it’s a practice which sustains itself and sustains me. But I have to overcome inertia and do it.

You can read the rest of Rachel’s post here .

I can certainly relate. It’s entirely too easy to blow off prayer in the mornings, especially if I’ve been up too late the night before reading or grading (or, let’s face it, watching too much TV).

Fortunately, there are some helps to prayer in my life. The Church gives us the Liturgy of the Hours, and at my house we pray at least one of the offices in common each day, so there’s some built-in accountability for me. Not that that removes the temptation entirely….

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One response to “The struggle to pray

  1. I’m glad this resonates for you; thanks for linking to the post!

    It definitely helps to be part of a tradition which presumes daily prayer. (In Jewish tradition, we’re meant to pray three times daily.) Sometimes I feel like the challenge is to rise to the tradition’s expectations, instead of letting myself become so overwhelmed with work and with my to-do lists that prayer slides off of my plate again. In this, as in so many things, I think intention matters — and I think the practice can build up its own continued motion, in a certain way. When I’m praying, I want to keep praying. When I’ve fallen off the wagon, it takes effort to get back on. 🙂

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