I'm not real sure what it is about summer time and prayer that just don't mix with me! Maybe it's the heat down here in the south, or the fact that my schedule is out the window, or because I allow myself to be so lazy in the summer because the kids are done with school....ok, it's probably a combination of all three. Whatever the case, I have such a difficult time keeping up with my regular prayer schedule in the summer! I mean, I still pray, and think about God and where He fits in my life, but it's very patchy and it's not consistent. It's only when I feel like it. Maybe that's the issue, as well...I let my feelings get involved. I also had a realization the other night. I realized that prayer is like Prozac. Stay with me, here! This will go somewhere, I promise. I grew up with a father who was (well, still is) manic-depressive, so I know what it is like to be around the disease of depression, even though I've never actually experienced it personally. It broke my family, and it makes for a few rocky child-hood memories. I also know that God allows situations and circumstances, both good and bad, to fall upon us for a reason. I truly believe that part of that reason is for us to use those circumstances to learn things. And then, it is up to us to take what we've learned and use it to fine-tune our lives so that we are constantly re-orienting ourselves towards our Creator. What I've learned through watching my father suffer from depression is this. Basically, he would go through a series of ups and downs...in an extreme way. The only way to balance it was with medication, but the problem was that he would be on the meds for awhile, he would feel fine, and was actually doing fine, so he decided he no longer needed to take his meds. So, he would stop, and the spiral downward would begin, and then he would hit rock-bottom, which would make him realize that his only option was medication, which he would then get back on, and then he would achieve normalcy again, and then stop the meds, and it just went round and round. And this is not just my father...it's very common for people with depression to follow this pattern. I've realized that I am the same way with prayer that a person with depression is with anti-depressants. I hit rock-bottom, spiritually, and realize that I can't live properly without prayer, so I'll get back on my prayer life again. Things will go great for awhile, and I think "hey, I don't need to pray...I'm doing so great...I'm patient with the kids, I'm loving and understanding with my husband, my house is clean...surely God won't mind if I skip my Rosary...just for today..." Then the spiral downward begins. It's slow, but slippery. A little quick to anger here, skipping my husband's laundry day there. It's also dangerous! I recently heard about a woman who was dealing with depression, and she said that she hates the fact that she has to rely on a pill to keep her normal...that even her holiness depends upon medication. She said it was frustrating. I can only imagine! The difference with me is that my disease is pride - a very nice side-effect of Original Sin, thank you very much Mr. Adam and Mrs. Eve! I don't like having to rely on something or someone else other than myself for balance in my life, either. I like to do things my way, and I take pride when I accomplish things without the help of others. I like human respect, but God calls me to humility. And, I know that prayer is the answer. St. Ephram says that "prayer is the counter poison of pride; the antidote to the passion of hatred..." I can see the effects in my life when I pray regularly and sincerely. I like the effects of prayer in my life. So, why do I fight it so much? Why does it have to be so hard? Much like people with depression, despite the fact that I know prayer is the medicine I need to achieve holiness, I just don't want to take it sometimes! I want to try life by myself, on my own two feet. Luckily for me, God is patient, and He does not get tired of reminding me that prayer is good for me. He gave it to me not because He needs it, but because I need it to survive. So, here I go again, attempting to fine-tune my life and re-orient it towards God.
And, if rock-bottom doesn't motivate me to prayer, then perhaps this will help:
"He who prays is certain to be saved; while he who prays not is certain to be damned. All the saints were saved, and came to be saints by praying; all the accursed souls in hell were lost through neglect of prayer; if they had prayed, it is certain that they would not have been lost. And this will be one of the greatest occasions of their anguish in hell, the thought that they might have saved themselves so easily; that they had only to beg God to help them, but that now the time is past when this could avail them"
~St. Alphonsus De Liguori