Our Fr. Thomas Davis reflects for us on the question: “What do you do at those times when prayer is your vocation, but you don’t feel like praying?”
When this question was proposed to me, two thoughts came immediately to mind. Persons, who are in a happy and stable marriage, must experience feelings of not wanting to be married. What do they do? The other thought was: what is prayer?
The feeling of not wanting to pray is not always negative. As an emotion, a feeling can be put to a good positive use by integrating it into and using it towards solid growth and development as a person. I am not my emotions, but I need to use my emotions in such a manner so as to arrive at a healthy self-knowledge, known in our Benedictine-Cistercian tradition as humility.
“Ups and downs” in my relationship with God (‘alternations in one’s life’ as St Bernard of Clairvaux styles them) sharpens my focus, choices, and appreciation in my calling to a daily monastic life style of prayer.
What is prayer? Our Benedictine-Cistercian tradition, the particular style of formation that shaped me, teaches that humility is continual prayer. In a ‘nut shell,’ this tradition claims that humbly accepting one’s self and one’s life in all its dimensions, inserts a monk into Christ’ s passion, death and resurrection. Prayer of Christ is his is unconditional ‘yes’ to the Father. The Rule of Benedict envisions daily monastic life as a perpetual ‘yes’ to God’s Will. This daily humble openness to God leads into that selfless love that is Christ’s: For God is love.