Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

Prayer For Prayer’s Own Sake

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I love that. I’m also discomfited by it, a little.

I’m discomfited by it because – as I’ve said time and again – I have an ambivalent relationship with prayer. I have an ambivalent relationship with prayer because I have an ambivalent relationship with faith, and with God, and because of all of those ambivalences, I sometimes struggle with what it means to pray. Am I actually asking God for guidance or peace or grace? Am I engaging in quiet but active reflection? Am I meditating?

I like to think that it’s some combination of the above – even in my moments of doubting God, I cling to the idea that God is nonetheless there, and listening – who among us does not want to be heard? – and it’s this thought, this feeling, that it is each one and all of these things that keeps me praying, even as I wring my hands about prayer and disavow certain kinds of prayer and wonder whether I might be doing something more effective than praying. Because there is beauty and force in quietness and reflection and searching conversation, even if that conversation sometimes seems – seems – one-sided.


So, yes, I pray. I am conflicted, ambivalent, confused, anxious about faith, but nevertheless, I pray. Even if it sometimes doesn’t actually look like prayer – even if it sometimes takes the form of focused, grateful, reflective attention upon the things that I cherish, like this…

budge-joy.jpg… and this…

jib-joy.jpg— it is still prayer.

And it nourishes me.

Comments read comments(2)
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Damon Cervantes

posted June 14, 2010 at 8:26 am

You’ve done it once again. Superb writing!

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Stephen W.

posted July 20, 2010 at 1:56 am

Hi Catherine,
I was delighted to read about your “ambivalent relationship with prayer”. It is refreshing to read others being honest about their questions about faith, God, and prayer. In some ways like you, I’ve also had many unanswered questions about prayer, not really knowing how to pray, or what to pray for, or what was the purpose of prayer. It’s good to read about others who also struggle with these issues.

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