Catching up on some issues of America, I read a column that raised an issue that I think arises for many people. The author shared the discomfort and anxiety she experienced on a silent retreat. She worried about how she would feel staying silent…how she would deal with the time alone…what she would do if she discovered something she didn’t want to face. These anxieties made prayer very difficult.
The women received wonderful advice from one of the spiritual directors at the retreat – advice that I think is useful for anyone in their prayer and on retreat: “She gently asked if perhaps I was trying too hard and suggested that I try ‘wasting time with God…Go for a walk, take a nap, pray, just invite God into it.'” The woman reported that that advice changed her entire retreat experience.
I was given similar advice many years ago by a Jesuit friend of mine. He suggested that I was turning my prayer into work and encouraged me to just enjoy my time with God.
It is so easy for us to get caught up various anxieties that make our prayer more difficult. Am I doing it right? Am I being productive enough? The versions of the questions vary. But we end up trying so hard that we don’t enjoy our time with God.
But all God wants is to spend some time with us. So instead of worrying about what you want or need to accomplish in your prayer…whether you are doing it right…whether you are getting done what you need to, just waste some time with God. And enjoy.