Many of us go through periods where we are in a spiritual slump and it’s difficult to pray. But some people go through experiences that are so terrible and traumatic that they feel abandoned by God, and prayer becomes painful. How can you continue to pray when you feel as though God doesn’t hear you?
A listener recently wrote in to Go Ask Your Father™ and shared his story about becoming homeless, despite praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet daily. Praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet have now become too painful for him, as it reminds him of his homelessness. He goes to Mass several times per week, but is beginning to think that God wants him to be miserable. How can he pray? Monsignor Stuart Swetland responded:
“It’s not God’s will for you to be miserable. He wants you to have life, and have it to the full. But everyone understands, and it’s natural on one level, that those kinds of prayers that you were doing when you had a traumatic experience would be difficult to do now.
There’s an old adage in prayer. Pray as you can, not as you can’t. So right now, if you can’t do those devotions – the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet – there are other prayers that you can do. Maybe prayers centered around the Eucharist, since you are able to receive the Eucharist several times per week.
Maybe focus on praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, focus on praying the Scriptures, when you go to church there are missalettes there that have the daily readings. You can do other forms of prayer other than the ones that right now you find traumatic or difficult.
God doesn’t want you to be miserable, He wants you to have life, and have it to the full. Now, if you need help from the community to help you reach that fulfillment, that human flourishing, this is the point where we need to help you. So reach out and allow people to help you. Hopefully you’ll know, from your prayer, what are the kinds of things you need people to help you with.
Be patient with us. We don’t always see Jesus present in people who struggle like we should. So help us do better in your case.
This is the key – God wants you to flourish, the community should be there to help you flourish. Reach out and ask us to do the things we can do to help you. It may not be a priest who will help you, but Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the lay faithful in the parish you go to.
Since they see you often at Mass, they should have come to be comfortable with you enough that you can say, ‘I really need help. Can you help me get the help?’ The person may not be able to do it themselves, but they probably will be able to help you get the help you need.
That’s what we’re here for. We’re a family, a people in friendship together. And I hope everyone out there is listening. Help those who need help. It’s part of what Christ is calling us to do.”
Listen to the full response below: