Allen, I read and enjoy your blog. My problem is that when I sit down to pray or contemplate, it always seems to be a struggle. After a while, I just give up. Any suggestions?
Struggle and effort should never be mentioned in the same sentence with prayer. Prayer, true prayer, is a peace-filled and joyous adventure. When effort and tension start prowling around the “prayer closet,” something is off. And usually, it’s the focus.
In most cases, effort shows up when the prayer focus is on getting or getting rid of something. Usually it’s an emergency or troubling situation where a quick resolution is wanted. Nothing good will come out of such praying or contemplating. It can’t.
Think about it. If what drives you to pray (and I use that term interchangeably with meditate or contemplate) is the problem, your attention is on the problem. Your attention is on the very thing that seems to be making you anxious and fearful. What can you expect but more anxiety and more struggle? For all that effort, you might as well stop praying and go lift a set of eighty-pound dumbbells.
Remember the Golden Rule of Prayer: Start with God, stay with God and end with God. Proper prayer is God Realization. The intent is God Realization and the result is God Realization. The absolute truth is that prayer hasn’t actually started until the moment of Realization.
If you find yourself restless at the outset of prayer, examine your motive. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If your honest answer is, “I’m praying to get or fix something,” get up and do something else. Come back when your motive is purely for God (Self) realization.
Reader, have you ever sunk into the cozy comfort of an overstuffed armchair? That’s what it feels like when prayer starts with a right motive.
But, what if you can’t settle into prayer? What if the pain is so bad, or the condition so overwhelming that you can’t shake the struggle? YOU CAN! You are constituted that way. Remember, your Identity is God-Identified. Using the Sit and Repeat Method, you are going to get back to true prayer.
First, establish your motive – the joy of God Realization. When you sit down to pray, as soon as you feel anxious, get up. Do anything enjoyable. Ten minutes or so later, sit down to pray again. At the first sign of a struggle, again get up. Repeat this cycle until you can sink into the Realization of God’s Allness. You will, and you will on the very same day you try this method.
Notice, I have not addressed the problem that seemed to alarm you. That’s because once you are aware that God is All, the seeming problem will no longer be a concern. Why should it? You’ve already discovered that right there where the problem seemed to be, GOD IS.