Can't Pray - What's Wrong?

I recently asked / participated in a thread about the dark night of the soul. I stopped into Church today - a sensitively sad week for me - and I couldn’t pray. Neither formal prayer nor just talking to God. Sometimes, when alone, I will burst into tears if no one is there, feeling lucky that I can cry my eyes/heart out to God in His Presence without being seen by others, etc. Today, nothing. My prayer life is tepid (perhaps laziness) - but to get into Church when I so need to speak with God - at a time when it’s just me there - I can’t tell you how empty I felt.

I know people say to just sit and let God talk to us - maybe I was not patient enough - but SOMETHING wasn’t happening - I just felt so empty.

It helped me to realize that I don’t have to be saying or thinking anything to pray or talk to God. He doesn’t need the words. He knows exactly what you need.

I also had an extremely difficult week. Sunday was the fourth anniversary of my son’s death. There have been countless times in the last four years that I just didn’t have anything to say. I had every desire to talk to Him. I wanted to say and hear lots of things. There are times that, as human beings, we are limited. How fabulous is it that God isn’t limited? Isn’t it fabulous that God knows what we need better than ourselves?

I have gotten into a routine where I sit in silence with God at least once a day. It took some work, but it was worth it to me. I lay in bed before going to sleep and try my best to shut out everything. I have always been able to actually sit and think about nothing. It’s a blessing and a curse.

If that doesn’t really do it for you though, just try to remember that the words will come back.

I hope that your week gets better!

That’s my “sensitive” week, too. The first anniversary of my mother’s passing is Saturday. One year today, I called but couldn’t reach my priest - the priest who did come (from another Church) administered something but not Last Rites as I know them or as the other priest would have given. (I should have called him again.) That’s what today was for me remembrance-wise. I sat in Church just looking at the pew I sat in during the funeral, and I drove home from Church wishing for a “do-over” that can never be.

Sorry for your loss.

Please don’t feel I’m insensitive in posting this prayer on behalf of you both. Love, Trishie

The grieving heart
Dear Mother Mary, please comfort each grieving heart in the waves of pain that frequently engulf it. Sustain it when dark mourning closes out all light of comfort and hope, and when prayer seems no longer possible.

Obtain the gentle understanding and warm companionship of others to nurture the stricken heart and lead it towards hope and new life. Sustain it with faith and bring it to true generosity of spirit even in its sorrow.

You deeply experienced the laceration of suffering and bereavement, Mother. It entered and filled your Son’s life, piercing your soul, echoing through all your years. You watched your beloved Child follow a path that led to His earthly annihilation. Grieving, you were powerless to murmur or to prevent Him who must be about His divine Father’s affairs. You suffered, prayed, and loved in silent faith, as so many parents must.

Like innumerable mothers throughout the ages, you watched with anguish the struggling progress of your Son’s destiny, amid rising danger of circumstance and others’ opposition. Finally, you beheld as others’ selfishness, unbelief, ambition, fear and pride, destroyed Him who only loved them and sought their salvation.

He hung there, your boy, cruelly nailed, struggling for breath and faith. You helplessly watched life drain from His pure, loved body as His struggle deepened in pain, fever and weakness. You would have protected Him whom you loved in excruciating intensity, but you could never choose to betray the divine intention that entrusted Him to you. “Your will be done!” your being replied endlessly with His to the divine Father.

Have pity on the anguished helplessness issuing from inability to alleviate the sufferings of dear ones. Mother crucified of heart, as we suffer with our dear ones’ pain and grief, please obtain for us such courage, obedience and selflessness as your own and His, so that the highest will of divine love shall be fulfilled in each of our lives.

Mother have pity on that terrible grief, that chasm of loss, the emptiness that stretches before the bereaved as they embrace their dead in their desolate hearts, as you have done.
Let them find hope in your dead son’s resurrection even when their hearts are still frozen with grief.

Thank you, dear Mother. 1981

I know just what you’re talking about. What I’ve seen happen with me is that I will have a few days/weeks of this and then it’ll let up, and right now that happens cyclically. According to what many of the Saints I’ve read have written about it (it’s common to read a Saints writings about this experience) continuing to visit Him, worship Him, listen for Him, even when not getting “consolations” proves to Him (and maybe to our inner-self, too) that we do love Him.

Feelings are important because they tell us, in part, who we are - but they are not the whole of us. Feelings can come and go without rhyme or reason (I call feelings windmills shifting in slight breezes)…one day I am cast right down and the next I can wonder why on earth I felt the way I did yesterday. Our Faith is also an integral part of us telling us telling us the whole of who we are despite what we may feel. Faith also tells us who God is and who we are in relationship to God…and feelings cannot change Faith unless we put our feelings over and above Faith rather than the other way round. Unless we let our feelings dictate to Faith rather than Faith dictate to our feelings.

It can be very hard to pray when our feelings for one reason or another are down in the dumps…I find it best to pray as I am not despite my feelings but “out of them” sharing with The Lord where my feelings may be at any particular point. Feelings are not moral. Rather morality and right and wrong come into the picture in what I choose or decide to do with my feelings. Feelings can wax and wane for many reasons, almost a multitude of reasons, some conscious and some may be unconscious…hence what we feel is beyond often one’s volition, or choices and decisions, meaning that I cannot simply decide how I am going to feel in any one day or at any one point and then it is effected - feelings automatically falling in line with all and any decisions and choices.

I pray Prayer from The Divine Office and if I am really feeling lousy (as I happen to do at this point in time for some really unknown reason or reasons), I spend a few minutes before each Hour talking to The Lord about my lousy and undevotional feelings. The Lord knows how I feel whether I share it with Him prayerfully or whether I do not. Lousy and undevotional feelings can simply be an interior cross on the way. Certainly many indeed of our saints knew these types of days, or a day in their days.

I find personally trying to get at why I feel the way I do is draining mental energy and I am never sure that I have got at the reason anyway and upset myself even further…I simply share what I feel with The Lord and plod on with my little interior cross.

Prayer is our journey of relationship with The Lord and one sort of works out what will work for one and maintain that relationship of prayer despite the vicissitues of life. After all in human relationships if I am feeling lousy, I share this disposition with my friends as an explanation of a more silent “Barb” to the usual bubbly one - i.e.I don’t refuse to talk to them - I explain and share with them. And if I did refuse to talk to them when feeling down, the friendship would not last probably and with good friends they are quite understanding of a lousy mood in passing.

Share the empty feeling with The Lord, ask His help in what you are feeling and how to best deal with it. He is your very best friend of all!

Thank you all for good advice - I’m finding today being more difficult emotionally.

And to “Trishie” - I must say your comments were ironically coincidental. That when at home, now without my mother here on earth, I regularly pray (begging) to the only Mother I have left - the Blessed Mother - knowing she hears me. Ironically, on several occasions, I’ve told her or just thought of her great pain watching her Son - the Son of God - suffer and die on the Cross - and how menial my sufferings are in comparison. I don’t hear her answer, as I know my earthly mother would have in voice but I know Our Lady hears me. Your comments were very much in keeping - and your prayer far from insensitive. God and Our Lady bless you.

It’s just that yesterday in Church - I never felt so devoid / incapable of praying anything - even in my own words. I really needed to. Even talking to God in my own words - nothing seemed right. I don’t know if I’m beginning to feel like a failure - as a Catholic and a human being. I think there’s alot going on inside of me.
God and Our Lady bless you.

Thank you, I am sorry for your loss as well. I can’t really help you other than to pray for you and tell you I completely understand the “do-over” thing. There are so many things I wish I could go back in time and change. Hugs to you.

Trishie - Thanks for the prayer. Prayers are never insensitive!

To the OP, I posted this in another thread…don’t know if it helps or not:

To the original poster remember Jesus felt alone, He was even denied by his own friends. Everything He went though in His passion though was, for one, so that we know He knows what we are going through. Jesus went through such physical and mental pain that there is nothing one of us experiences that He cant understand. So dont despair Jesus hasnt abandoned you, and like Jesus your suffering has value so offer it up. One thing you could offer your suffering up for is if your Mom is in purgatory your suffering may help lessen her time there and how joyful that would be for her to enter heaven sooner. If she is already in heaven then your sufferings could help another soul.

I will pray for those of you that do know the reason you don’t feel well or that can’t seem to pray well and for those of you that don’t quite know why you feel “lousy”.

Everyone experiences crises like this mentioned. Usually they bring us closer to God, once they’re over.
I’d recommend repeating short little prayers. At first it will be just talking without any spiritual engagement in it, but if you persist it can bring the peace you need to pray with all your soul.
It is important not to stop praying, whatever kind of prayer it is. Maybe just read the Bible or some catholic author, but always find time for spiritual nourishment.

This is really excellent advice:

I’d recommend repeating short little prayers. …
It is important not to stop praying, whatever kind of prayer it is. Maybe just read the Bible or some catholic author, but always find time for spiritual nourishment.

During times of spiritual difficulties we may need to adopt a different form of prayer no longer able to pray as usual. No matter what during such times, it is very important to continue praying although all sorts of temptations may enter into one’s mind and to be ignored as best we can…and if we continue to pray we will be ignoring them though the struggle against them may continue.

Usually they bring us closer to God, once they’re over.

Periods of difficulty will often have the result once concluded, of a time of spiritual consolation…while to embrace the cross and all the sufferings and difficulties both interior and exterior that come along unites us to Christ and His cross and thus redemptive as we ‘take up our cross and follow Him’.
I just now glanced up and noticed the thread title again: “Can’t pray - What’s wrong?” When prayer is a time of consolation, this is a Gift of God to praise and be thankful for indeed - but free and undeserved gift it is and nothing of our own earning or doing. When we find prayer difficult, perhaps even impossible to pray as we did previously, this simply means that God for His Own Reasons is withholding consolation…i.e. nothing need necessarily be wrong. The cross can come in many different garments - either an exterior matter causing interior suffering, or simply entirely an interior suffering. “Take up your cross daily and come, follow Me”…
The Lord does not abandon sincere trust and Hope in Him and if there is something wrong in our spiritual life that has brought about Him withholding consolation from us, it will become apparent…or indeed deep down we will recognize the reason. But it can really be a great gift and consolation on the spiritual journey to have a spiritual director.

Dear Trishie and All -

I don’t know what’s wrong with my computer. I posted reply to you all yesterday - this morning, it’s not here.

Thank you all. And to Trishie, I did not take your reply as not insensitive but rather similar thoughts to those I have when I pray to Our Lady now - the only mother I have since I don’t know where my Mom is. People are quick to say “they’re not suffering - they’re with God” - As Catholics, we have to be realistic understanding the teachings of our Church - Purgatory, etc., so I*** don’t know where she is *** - which makes the grieving so painful - I can only hope. But I have had the very thoughts you posted in your prayer. When I speak to Our Lady - I recall that her sorrow had to be the greatest. So, I didn’t take your post as insensitive at all - rather coincidentally in my own train of thought.

Hoping this post takes. God and Our Lady Bless you all.

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