“To love is to give all and to give oneself.” ~ St. Therese of the Child Jesus
I want to be more generous at prayer and to pray with greater devotion. This has long been my desire because I love God. I want to serve Him in this way, which is why I am a Secular Carmelite. I love to pray and want to put more love into the time that I spend in prayer. Often times though, I race through it just to get it done. It seems at other times I am just going through the motions. Sometimes the goal is just to fit in more quantity rather than quality, so I will fill up my time at prayer with various devotions without any real sentiment attached to them.
To give myself completely and generously to prayer I need to be attentive to the task at hand. What holds me back from being generous with God at prayer?
One thing for sure is selfishness. I need to make generous efforts to pray, which would greatly help in conquering “self”. I am often preoccupied when I begin to pray and these preoccupation encroach upon my prayer and carry me away from actually praying. I need to give these preoccupations to God first before beginning to pray. Attention to a short period of preparation before praying will aide in overcoming this obstacle to generosity. Sometimes I am just lazy; therefore, I need to arouse zeal within me by recalling the goal and to stir up within me the desire to rise higher. Additionally, prayer is a sacrifice and in this I am most wanting. It requires the sacrifice of time. It takes time to pray and this means to take away time from doing something else. But what else can be more important to do with the time I have? Sometimes I lack a generous spirit in praying because of discouraging results. Prayer is not always pleasant or rewarding. But then this is not the reason I pray. All these obstacles keep me from raising my heart and mind to God.
Prayer needs to be approached not as a duty or obligation, but as the means of striving for union with God. Prayer is, after all, a gift. That I can commune with God is His gift, underserved by me worm of the earth! Therefore, I should approach prayer with great humility and trust.
God is generous in His distribution of gifts, so I should be generous in my efforts, seeking to pray with the right dispositions and making a complete gift of myself to Him when I pray. I should never shrink from prayer, hesitate, avoid doing it, or waste away the time when I could be praying. Praying is a way to redeem time.