That prayer is difficult for me is no news. The Catechism's description of prayer as a battle is especially apt in my case. Having reached my first anniversary of non-seminarian-ness, I am led to reflect on my relationship with God, and to understand the different factors affecting my prayer life a year ago, and today.
Although I have never swayed from my obligations as a Catholic, I long ago ceased to attempt upholding the obligations of a seminarian. The Liturgy of the Hours volumes that always sit on my desks (at home and at work) feel heavy and hollow. Not even the Office of Readings, which was always my favorite hour, holds the same appeal as it once did. In past Lenten seasons I would pray the Sorrowful Mysteries daily; this last one I have not gone through the entire Rosary even once.
I suppose some of my faithful friends might be alarmed or even irritated by this development, but I am not. I am not saying good-bye to prayer or to God. I am shedding a neurosis that poisoned my past prayer, and I seek an authentic prayer. Prayer was never relational for me; it was meant to ward off the disapproval that I feared so much, so that I could return to a comfortable, solitary existence. I prayed so that I could say that I did. I had a receipt of completion to give to St. Peter, so that I would be at least blamelessly mediocre.
Of course, this is not true of all of my past prayers. But up until this point my prayer life has been bifurcated into the obligatory-rigorous and the spontaneous-unreliable. It is as though within my soul the Protestant division into the reductive liberal sects and the deductive conservative sects has played itself out. My life is too busy to maintain two dysfunctional "prayer lives". Let me now say yes to grace, and soberly and deliberately take up the path of prayer again, as a beginner in need of a guide, as a new follower, with the shambles of past prayers broken and burning behind me. My name is Jeff, and I am a member of the Body of Christ; let me be carried to Him in the arms of the sacraments; let me live their graces humbly and simply between each one.