Are we careful not to wander when prayer isn’t what it used to be?
Can you think of a time when you felt completely on fire about your faith? Truth and lies seemed so clear, didn’t they? You had perspective on what really mattered and what was passing vanity. You understood what “mountaintop experience” meant, like when Jesus took his coolest disciples up a mountain—the others must have been parking the donkey—and he was transfigured into something they’d never seen before and could barely describe (Mt 17). They got it. They saw what was really going on.
When you had that experience, what happened next?
Maybe you ran off and joined a monestary? The sort of monestary where you’re encouraged to read marriage blogs.
I know what happens to me. I wake up one day and remember how I felt and that’s when I realize I don’t feel that way anymore. Real life somehow sneaks up on me and before I know it I’m back to my usual self stressed about the usual stuff and doing my usual dumb things I know I shouldn’t be doing.
That’s usually what happens to me after the mountaintop experience; I drift.
We’re familiar with this concept in other areas. There are people in every profession who change jobs like clockwork, chasing greener grass on the other side of the fence. Sadly, it’s all too common in marriage for one or the other to wake up one day and realize the passion, the feelings, are gone and that they’ve been drifting away for a while now.
But, if you’re reading a marriage blog, from a monastery or anywhere else, you’re thinking about how to prevent that from happening to you with your spouse.
Are you watching your wandering eyes in your faith?
The reality is that our faith in Jesus is a relationship no less complex than our relationships with anyone else. There are great, emotional moments where we really feel something, but most of the time that’s not the case. Most of the time is spent getting to know each other and growing in intimacy.
Or, at least, that’s what we should be doing in prayer.
All too often for me, instead of taking advantage of the times I feel close to God and really letting go of some of my anxieties and challenges, I spend the time trying to figure out how to make it last. How do I just stay here on the mountain top?
Jesus doesn’t allow that, though. He draws close as a reminder that he’s near and he loves us, but before long he’ll give us space to pursue him or to wander away.
We often think the purpose of relationships is to make us feel a certain way or to get us certain things. God will not always feel near and he certainly doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want. Have we tried rooting our prayers in praise of God or in looking deeply within ourselves to find the thoughts and feelings in us that we don’t want to see hiding there and presenting these to Jesus to see what he has to say about them? Jesus gives us great experiences to build our trust so that we’ll open up with him.
If Jesus seems far away, maybe now is the time for us to sit down in prayer and say so and talk through why that is and how we feel about it. Maybe now is the time to focus our wandering eyes and put them back where they belong.