Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Gap

I've found out something in my 33 years of life, especially the 14 years in which I've been trying to live a good Christian life. Here it is: Prayer always works against temptation. If you are being severely tempted, to anger, to lust, to despair, to whatever your particular vices are, prayer will always work. Say "Jesus, help me," or "Holy Mother of God, save me" or "St. Michael the Archangel. . ." and God will send help. It's true. It always works.

So, why do I still sin? (And I do still sin.) What happens? I can feel the temptation coming on, coming on like a freight train. I know, intellectually, that if only I begin to pray, the temptation will pass by without harm. But I don't pray. Why? There's some sort of gap between the recognition that prayer will save me, and the actual act of praying. That gap is so small, and yet feels like the Grand Canyon. To go from the state of tempted-not-praying to redeemed-from-temptation-by-praying is the most difficult thing in the world. I could run a marathon easier than I could do this.

Obviously, the answer is never to allow myself to get into the state of not-praying. I must take St. Paul's advice and pray without ceasing. St. John Chrysostom says somewhere that it is impossible to sin while one is praying--I need, therefore, to pray all the time, if I want to be freed from sin.

Please pray that God will teach me how to pray, and will replace my stony heart with a real heart that constantly calls out to God.

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