Luke 2: 36 – 38
6 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Praying is not always easy, perhaps that should not surprise us, after all prayer could be said to be a conversation with God. There are of course times when conversing even with our nearest and dearest can be difficult, but that should never stop us talking to one another though and just because it’s difficult sometimes shouldn’t mean we do not speak with God.
On Iona many years ago I attended a Prayer Workshop which ended with the Irish nun leading us all in a meditative prayer. In this she led us by quiet reflection into a very relaxed state where we could talk to God without using words. It was a wonderful experience. At the start as she began to get us to close our eyes and tune out the noises of the World she warned us that we might fall asleep, but that if we did this was no bad thing as our spirits would continue to pray as our physical bodies refreshed themselves.
It has certainly been my experience since that turning over a problem late at night as I drift off to sleep often I awake to find not that the problem has gone away or been resolved, but that through the night prayer has provided a way out of it.
There was in days long gone an Abbess of a Convent. She, like Anna, was a very devout lady, and in accordance with the rule of her order spent a lot of hours in prayer every day. The Bishop of the Diocese visited the Convent twice a year originally to check up on how things were going but the devout Abbess had everything so under control it was latterly a nice escape for him to visit and relax for a couple of days.
It had been his custom that on arrival he and the Abbess would go to her private chapel and pray together before sharing Mass with the whole Convent. On one visit he noticed a certain reluctance on the Abbess’ part and eventually she came clean and said “I’m sorry your Grace but I find it almost impossible to pray these days….” The Bishop was dumbstruck for a while then started to explain to the good Nun that all people have times when they find prayer difficult but he was surprised she was finding it that difficult. He made it his business to spend the next two days when not in the Chapel conducting the various offices of the day to talk to the Abbess about prayer and what we can do when we find it difficult. As he left to go on to his next appointments he left her with words of encouragement, and the expectation that when he returned in six months she would be back to her full prayer life.
The other Nuns had noticed things weren’t right between her and the Bishop and as soon as the he left they asked their Reverend Mother what the problem was.
She reassured them all was well “I told him that I found it difficult to pray and he has spent two days explaining the importance of prayer in spiritual life and how to keep going at all times. So much so he has hardly drawn breath, but had he done so I might have had the chance to tell him how difficult I find praying whilst I cannot kneel due to this very painful abscess I have on my knee!”
Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, forgive our human frailties when we feel we cannot come to you in prayer, when we keep things to ourselves rather than sharing them with you. May we always remember the needless burden we carry when we do not bring all to you in prayer.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,