One of my professors used to say, “Reading is reading.” This came back to me, when during my daily spiritual reading, I came across that same sort of phrase, only this time pertaining to prayer. Abbot Herbert is quoted as saying, “To try to pray is in fact to pray.” Now, I don’t know who Abbot Herbert is but I believe in his words.
For me, there are three important things to keep in mind when trying to pray.
In trying to pray, it is the giving that matters. Prayer is not about me. It is not about what I am getting out of it. We pray for the sake of God. Not that God needs us to pray but we need to pray for God’s sake all the same. Giving to God our time, our efforts, our attention, our praise, our thanks, and our love is what matters.
Secondly, in trying to pray we should remember that there can be no progress in prayer without progress in faith. After all, prayer is about God so we cannot rely on our knowledge, understanding, and reason, nor can we look for signs. To meet God in prayer, we need to empty ourselves and strip away those things that can get in the way. We need to take it on faith that our efforts to pray matter.
And lastly, prayer requires perseverance. In trying to pray there are times when prayer seems dry, dark, and lifeless. This can be a difficult and frustrating experience because we feel that nothing is happening in our prayer and that we are doing something wrong. It is in these times when we cannot give up. We must trust that God is working in us and on us. We must persevere in prayer.
Thank you, Abbot Herbert, for inspiring my reflections on prayer. And if you and my professor don’t mind, I would like to blend your two quotes and say, “Praying is praying.”