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Voluntary versus involuntary prayer


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Voluntary versus involuntary prayer


If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.
— Jean-Paul Sartre

Psalm 63:6
Lamentations 2:19
James 4:8

Along with a group of friends this morning, we discussed what exactly drives us toward prayer. We were all spiritual men, who share the plight of distraction.

We all agreed that nothing drives us toward prayer more than pain does. Whether we are dragged into prayer by emotional suffering, heartache, health issues, financial hardship, alienation or isolation, they have brought us to our knees.

But is there another way?

As I pondered this question, an answer popped into my head. I wondered, “Is there a way to be drawn to prayer, as opposed to being driven into it like cattle?” Immediately a word came to me: solitude.

As a 21st-century American, I am shackled by urgency. Whether minor emergencies are real or perceived, I dart to and fro, putting out the flames of these petty urgencies. From what I can tell, my friends suffer from the same problem.

Short of checking myself into a monastery, I wondered how I could create solitude in my own effort to be drawn into prayer by something positive. Is it possible, I pondered, that I could enjoy solitude so much as to be drawn to prayer on a regular basis?

My thoughts turned to the early days of my faith, during which I needed no outside stimulus to provoke me to pray. I remember being drawn in like a lover to a love note from his significant other. I would go to my quiet place almost every day. The experience was like having an appointment with the Almighty Himself.

Just thinking about the period of life fills me with envy. In our heart, we want to go back. If we could just turn back the clock. So we should, and we will.

Where and when do we find solitude?
How do we leverage solitude into personal growth?
Is there any way we could treat this more like an appointment with our lover?


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