Growing up Fr. Mike thought prayer should be like soaking in a hot tub. He didn’t understand why he found so much difficulty in prayer when he tried it.
It took him a while to learn that, as the Catechism says, prayer is a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. Prayer always presupposes effort. There’s always some kind of engagement when we properly pray to God. It’s not just about soaking in God’s grace. The required effort in prayer is difficult more often than it is not. Prayer is a battle against ourselves and “the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer” (CCC 2725).
Over time, Fr. Mike discovered that prayer needs to be more than a momentary time where we seek solace and closeness with God. We need to constantly acknowledge our relationship with God throughout the day, just as a husband and wife are constantly thinking of each other. Then when we do set aside time to simply be with God, it happens more naturally.
If you want to battle difficulty in prayer, make the intentional and faithful decision to live the same way outside of prayer as you do within prayer.
Read “The Battle of Prayer” section in the Catechism.
Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz
Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.