Can’t Pray. Won’t Pray. Our Father …
On Trinity Sunday, Darren was baptised following an epiphany that nothing but the Grace of God can transform his life and asked to be baptised. He came to it with utter conviction but with great trepidation as the business of public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ is a great privilege and responsibility.
It was providential that the day Darren gathered his courage to come and ask for baptism, Mark Walker, my companion on the Platinum Jubilee Walk and Darren’s class mate was in the Cathedral for Thursday Communion Service. Mark encouraged Darren in his decision to be baptised. And this humble beginning became a beautiful story of Growing in Grace.
On Trinity Sunday after the Service, Mark took Darren to have a burger for lunch after the Baptism, like Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement.. They needed time to reflect on what had just happened. It transpired in the conversation, I believe, that they shared a struggle – the business of prayer. Mark was honest and shared his struggle with prayer and more so in the company of others in the church! I thought, how honest can two disciples of Jesus Christ could be towards one another.
One of Darren’s struggle was praying in Church with others. Not that praying in the closet was any easier for him as it is for most of us, with the wondering mind and restless thoughts can be overwhelming. But praying together with others is equally hard because words can be as much as help and equally be an hindrance. Darren’s struggle with prayer is as ancient as the human soul that longs for God yet be distracted easily as of Eve and Adam.
Much has been said about our struggle with prayer that we could say with the Preacher, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. It is a paradox between the longing soul and the fragmented life. It is providential that the reality of ‘I can’t pray. I won’t pray’ surfaced on the Feast of the Trinity for Mark and Darren.
Our affirmation of faith in the Triune God opens for us a space where we can simply be and not strive towards something. It is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in action where love, joy and peace, with their counterparts of truth, justice and forgiveness coexists with an unending prayer of, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy. This must be at the heart of the Triune God and Darren and Mark just walked into that mystery unawares.
I reflected further on this conversation in holiness. Firstly, I came to the conclusion that it is impossible to share in the life of the Communion of the Trinity with defiled hearts and corrupt minds. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ Would the reverse be true? Cursed are the corrupt in heart, for they shall see nothing but the reflection of themselves? It is tempting to dabble with this form of thought. So, I went for a confession to a friend and former Monk. My confession was somewhat linked to the conversation on prayer between Mark and Darren.
When Darren spoke about his struggle with prayer, Mark suggested visiting Pluscarden Abbey where prayers are short and sung in Latin. While what is sung may not be heard and understood by the reasoning mind, it enters the soul of a saint and fulfils its purpose i.e. the union of the longing soul with God. One longing soul talks to another longing soul and together they find the place of peace. I shared this with my confessor who acknowledged the life of God in the soul of man, fragmented and troubled.
It is hard to persevere in prayer therefore the Lord made ways to help us with our infirmities in prayer. Prayer in Latin is better than the prayer that distracts me. I can’t pray. I won’t pray. Lord, teach us to pray.
I have one more story to add to this dialogue on prayer!