Yes, pastors have trouble praying, too. Sometimes I feel very connected to God and sometimes I wonder if he is listening (or even cares). I struggle with doubts and wonder “why bother?” when it comes to prayer, just as I suspect many of you do. Sometimes my prayer life is vibrant and alive and sometimes it feels like I just go through the motions.
What do I do when I have trouble praying? I go back to the tried and true and pray the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms. I take great comfort of the words of St. Paul in Romans: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
So, even when I have trouble praying or don’t feel like praying, the Holy Spirit is there to guide me and even offer up prayers on my behalf, and a prayer like the Lord’s Prayer helps move me out of my prayer doldrums and back on course. In fact, in my prayers today I cam across this wonderful meditation by an anonymous author:
I cannot pray Our, if my faith has no room for others and their need.
I cannot pray Father, if I do not demonstrate this relationship to God in my daily living.
I cannot pray who art in heaven, if all of my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.
I cannot pray hallowed be thy name, if I am not striving, with God’s help, to be holy.
I cannot pray thy kingdom come, if I am unwilling to accept God’s rule in my life.
I cannot pray thy will be done, if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot pray on earth as it is in Heaven, unless I am truly ready to give myself to God’s service here and now.
I cannot pray give us this day our daily bread, without expending honest effort for it, or if I would withhold from my neighbor the bread that I receive.
I cannot pray forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot pray lead us not into temptation, if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
I cannot pray deliver us from evil, if I am not prepared to fight evil with my life and my prayer.
I cannot pray thine is the kingdom, if I am unwilling to obey the King.
I cannot pray thine is the power and the glory, if I am seeking power for myself and my own glory first.
I cannot pray forever and ever, if I am too anxious about each day’s affairs.
I cannot pray Amen, unless I honestly say, “Cost what it may, this is my prayer.”
So, keep on praying, even if you don’t feel like it. The Spirit will help you.