Prayer for a Man’s Man

17 Apr

The taste of orange juice right after you brushed your teeth. The sound of nails scratching a chalkboard. The feeling of getting kicked square in the crotch. All are things I’d sometimes prefer to spending an extended period of time in prayer. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get the point. Prayer is often hard, really hard. From what I can tell, my struggles with prayer are pretty representative of what you might call a normal dude in America today. Men aren’t exactly pounding down the doors of the local parish church nowadays. The fact is, there are millions of things men would rather do than sit down and pray. I’m not saying men don’t want to pray or don’t understand the importance of prayer, although there are certainly plenty in both camps. I’m just saying the average Joe has a hard time with prayer in general, even if he would really actually like to pray.

Prayer for a Man's Man - Isaac Huss

When I was confirmed, I was told to ask God for a gift of the Holy Spirit. When piety was described to me as essentially a desire for doing holy things, I thought, “Sign me up! I’d love to actually enjoy going to Mass.” When the rubber hit the road, kneeling down and praying was not attractive to me at all. Ever. In hindsight, I was probably a wee bit naive about what it meant to receive the gift of piety. In other words, “Sure, God, I’ll pray, but what will I get out of it? Can you make it fun and exciting? Or at least a little bit enjoyable? Hell, I’d settle for tolerable! Oh, and sorry for swearing. Amen.”

Here’s the thing about prayer: it’s the exact opposite of self-centered. Prayer is a turning from self to God. It’s not self-seeking, it’s God-seeking. Not self-serving, but God-serving. Here’s where man’s struggle to pray becomes refreshingly counter-intuitive: when a man sits in prayer, whether it’s in Mass or by himself, and he starts to feel that familiar feeling of I’d-rather-be-doing-anything-else, that’s not him failing at prayer. In fact, it’s the opposite. It means he’s succeeding and the prayer is doing its work. Or, more properly speaking, God is doing His work.

When a weightlifter feels the burn while bench pressing, he doesn’t assume he’s failed, he realizes that the lifting is pushing him to his limits and making him stronger. Similarly, when we struggle in prayer, we are actually succeeding–pushing our spiritual capacity to its limit and making our love for God stronger. The goal of benching is not perfect form but a strong body. The goal of prayer is not perfect prayer, but love of God. I’m not saying that prayer can’t possibly be enjoyable or that the only way we grow in holiness is by gritting our teeth. I am saying that the measure of holiness does not necessarily mean that you’d rather participate in a 3-hour Latin high mass than watch the Vikings, or that a holy hour miraculously seems so much more appealing than a happy hour. Instead, holiness just might mean that you’d rather be doing something else, but you choose to pray anyway.

-Isaac Huss

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4 Responses to “Prayer for a Man’s Man”

  1. :) April 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Ain’t THAT the truth. for wimmin, too!

  2. Chris Miller April 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Nice work, Huss. Keep it up man.

  3. tnzk01 April 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Fantastic.

  4. Tim Messenger April 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    nice post!

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