It seems like for every month of consistent and profound prayer, I go through two months of rather dull and less-than-motivated time with God. Sometimes I’m able to pull through the stagnant moments by reminding myself that it’s in the challenges that I grow the most, or by recognizing the beauty of coming to Him when His presence doesn’t feel as strong. However, there are times when it takes more then a mental pep talk to keep on praying, and the action I need instead is more of a trust fall.
And lately, I’ve definitely needed a trust fall.
What makes my current prayer situation different from other times of dryness is my response to God’s ever-present invitation to enter into conversation with Him. Because rather than His invitation feel distant as it sometimes does, it’s my response that isn’t being quite as present. In other words, His presence and prompting for me to come to Him are currently strong and clear, but my desire to say yes is hindered by fear and lack of trust in what He will ask of me.
There are plenty of things that contribute to this fear, many of which are connected to the imperfect perception of God I grew up with. But while I could probably write a book about the experiences that made me see God as someone looking out to punish me, rather than a loving Father who wills my good, the point is that my original perception of God was incorrect. And even though it was incorrect, and I’ve learned to acknowledge it, that long-held misconception still affects the way I enter into my prayer. Therefore, instead of going into conversation with the same joyful eagerness that He awaits me with, I avoid it with a paralyzing fear that He will push me into needless suffering. It’s not hard to see how this might make my prayer a bit stagnant.
Fortunately, where there is God, there is also hope (something else He has allowed me the grace to learn). For a little over a year now, my go-to verse when times are trying has been Luke 1:45 which says, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” In the context of scripture, St. Elizabeth greets Mary with these words, praising her for trusting that God would keep His promises to her. In the context of my own life, these words have reminded me that, as with Mary, God will keep His promises to me. And what He has promised me is love.
So when my own imperfect mindset makes me fearful of His will, I’ve been trying to remember His promise to simply love me. I’ve been letting Him surprise me with what He is actually planning for me. Over Christmas, when I pursued my passion for travel, I feared that He would extinguish the desire I had for adventure, but I chose to pray and He revealed to me the immense joy of traveling with friends who share my faith. When my temporary job came to an end at the start of the new year, I feared that He would leave me desperate, but I chose to spend time with Him and He revealed to me that something amazing lay ahead. And when the question of vocation left me feeling paralyzed and unworthy, I turned to Him and He revealed to me that I was loved and created to love no matter what.
As I do my trust falls, He conquers my fear with love.
I may have a wound that still needs healing – a wound that continues to keep me from entering freely into my daily conversations with God. But the less I allow that wound to control my response to His invitation, the more I can be surprised by the love He wants to give me.
God is love; let’s trust Him to fill our lives with it.