Some reasons are obvious: over-busyness, tiredness and too many demands on our time, constant distraction, spiritual laziness, worship services that bore us, and methods of prayer that leave us flat and inattentive.
But there is another reason too, suggested by monks and mystics. The problem we have in sustaining prayer, they say, is often grounded in the false notion that prayer needs to be interesting, exciting, intense, and full of energy all the time. But that is impossible, nothing is meant to be exciting all the time, including prayer and church services, and nobody has the energy to always be alert, attentive, intense, and actively engaged all the time.
Sometimes we don’t pray regularly precisely because we simply cannot find within ourselves the energy, time, intensity, and appetite for active participation that we think prayer is demanding of us. But prayer respects that, even if spiritual authors and liturgists often don’t.
Prayer is meant to respect the natural rhythms of our energy. Praying is like eating and, as we know from experience, you don’t always want a banquet. If you tried to have a banquet every day, you would soon find coming to the table burdensome and would look for every excuse to escape, to sneak off for a quick sandwich by yourself.
Eating has a natural rhythm: banquets and quick snacks, rich meals and simple sandwiches, high times with linen serviettes and low times with paper napkins, meals which take a whole evening and meals which you eat on the run. And the two depend upon each other: You can only have high season if you mostly have ordinary time.
Healthy eating habits respect our natural rhythms: our time, energy, tiredness, the season, the hour, our boredom, our taste.
Prayer should be the same …