Pray as you can, and do not try to pray as you can’t.H. John Chapman
Prayer is one of the great gifts that God has given to us – we can talk to God, listen to God, and simply spend time with our loving Creator. But prayer can also be tremendously challenging. We can get bored, discouraged, confused, and weary of praying. What then? Abbot Chapman offers this wonderful advice, to pray as we can, not as we can’t. In other words, don’t worry so much about what is going wrong with our prayers. Pray as we can, and trust it to be enough. He goes on to say, in this letter written in 1932:
The rule is simply: Pray as you can, and do not try to pray as you can’t.
Take yourself as you find yourself, and start from that.
Again: some day you may find the acts (or continued act) of love stops. God is hidden.
Then take that as His Will, and do the best you can in darkness and humility.
Pray as you can, not as you can’t, but pray! As Abbot Chapman writes in another of his spiritual letters:
The only way to pray is to pray; and the way to pray well is to pray much. If one has no time for this, then one must at least pray regularly. But the less one prays, the worse it goes.”
Such simple, sound advice, for all who wish to deepen their lives of prayer. Pray much, or at least pray regularly, but pray, however we are able. Because the only way to develop a life of prayer is to pray.
O God, we thank you for the gift of prayer. Help us to turn to you often, and to spend time with you each and every day. Help us to pray well by praying much. When we struggle to pray, help us to trust that even our desire to pray is itself prayer. When we grow bored with prayer, renew our zeal to spend time with you. When we grow discouraged with the results of our time in prayer, remind us your son’s encouragement to us to pray always and not to lose heart. And, above all, help us simply to pray, each and every day, as we can. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Abbot Chapman’s quotes are all from a collection of his spiritual letters available here: Spiritual Letters.