September 8, 2010

Prayer and Indifference - part I

To grow in prayer requires some small measure of humanity on our part because it is only with grace-filled humanity that the Lord can enjoy our friendship.  But our humanity is constantly undermined by dark tendencies we must learn to offer to the Lord.  One of these dark tendencies is indifference.

Indifference is a dreadful obstacle to listening to God.  It is like mildew festering in the dark places of the heart - constantly causing damage to the joy and peace the Lord wants us to know.  Like most household monsters, no one likes to deal with it. We would rather pretend it was not there.  But like mildew, indifference is extremely unhealthy for the soul.  This disease, if not quickly treated, will fester into something mortal.

Sometimes when we go to pray we even discover our hearts have become too callous to truly attend to the Lord's loving presence.  Instead we experience an aversion to God and the things of God.  The temptation is to procrastinate, to put off the prayer time until later, for some future moment when we feel like praying.  The problem is, if we do not address our indifference, we are at grave risk for abandoning prayer altogether.  The moment we notice our indifference, that is the moment to raise our hearts in prayer and to ask Jesus to have mercy on us.

In her Autobiography, Teresa of Avila describes how she became so indifferent to Christ she put off really praying for years.   But the Lord never gave up on her.   She goes on to relate how the Lord broke through her hard heart and gave her the gift of tears.

In my next post, I will explain one of the ways Christ crucified shows us how to face our aversion to him.  He is the divine physician who can heal our indifference.