A common complaint I hear from people and also experience myself is that of the struggle to pray. Many are those who are frustrated because they feel prayer is essential, but have so little desire to pray or that they do not know how or what to pray. Many factors contribute to our penchant toward avoidance of prayer, but when we struggle in these ways, prayer becomes burdensome rather than desired and freeing. My hope in this and the next blog is to provide thoughts that give new direction and hope in our praying. My prayer is that these musings will prompt in you a deeper desire and freedom to commune with our Lord.
Sarah is the mother of five children who still craves the approval of her mother. Feeling that the problems in her home were caused by her arrival as an unwanted addition to her family, she set out to prove she could make her parents happy with her. Believing that fights between mom and dad were caused by the stress that she brought into their relationship, she often became their mediator. Seeking to solve her parents’ marriage problems, she sought every possible way to please them. Unable to do this, she, in desperation, sought affirmation from other people outside of her parents. Being for others what they wanted her to be became a theme in her life. Seeking affirmation and love, she sexually compromised with several boys in high school and college and resorted to numbing her pain with alcohol and drugs. Sarah was unsure of her identity and to whom she belonged. All she ever wanted was to know that someone was pleased with her and that her existence mattered.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape, a senior demon, writes a series of letters to his nephew, Wormwood, an apprentice demon, advising him in how to tempt a man, known as “the Patient.” Having failed to keep “the Patient” from the gift of salvation, Wormwood is now on a quest to steer him toward an ineffective and joyless Christianity. In an interesting passage in chapter nine, Screwtape informs Wormwood of a chief characteristic of humans that can serve as their inevitable downfall.
Jenny opened the note left on her pillow by her husband. As she quickly opened it, her hands trembled. Their relationship had been strained of recent, frequent quarrels breaking out. The note revealed his intentions to leave her and their three children. He would be filing for divorce and had seized all their assets. His attorney would be in contact with her soon. Waves of emotion swept over her. Questions flooded her mind: “What should I do? How will we survive? What could I have done to prevent this? How will this affect the children? Why does he hate me so much? Is there another woman?” Jenny’s worst nightmare had become reality.