The words spewed out of my mouth before I fully realized what I was saying.
“I don’t think I can pray that.”
Objectively speaking, I could. I could force my lips to form the words, my pen to write the sentences, my brain to think the thoughts to form a prayer.
But I don’t know that I could truly mean it. Do prayers still count if you don’t mean the words you’re saying? If you pray for something because you know that’s what you’re supposed to, but don’t know that you really want it to be true?
Jesus said to love our enemies. If we truly care about those we love, we pray for them. And so, to love my enemies, it follows suit that I should pray for them. “Enemies” might be strong terminology; anyone who has hurt me or those I love, or who I happen to not like very much that day, or any number of rather invalid reasons…I may not feel like I am able to pray for them.
Praying isn’t about feeling like I want to pray though. It’s a practice, an exercise, a ritual to be done when I feel it and when I don’t–perhaps especially when I don’t.
There is no other way to do something than to simply begin. So when I can’t pray that, I must start somewhere. Praying to be able to pray. It feels foolish, to not pray for that specific something, but to pray to be able to pray for it.
But it is, I imagine, very difficult to dislike someone for whom you are praying good–and meaning it. So by praying to be able to pray, perhaps I will find not only that I am able to mean the words, but to care for the person I was not able to before.
I do not expect this to happen in a day, a week, or maybe even a few months.
This, like the rest of me, is a work in progress.
Praying to be able to pray.
Til next time…
p.s. Have you ever had a prayer you felt you couldn’t pray?