In my downtime in Prague, and on those rainy afternoons, I have been spending my time reading a little C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.
It is a composition of the letters of an older demon advising his younger nephew about how to tempt and try a man. The book has been one that has provided multiple stings to the heart, if you will, as I see myself in the text. As the older demon writes I see myself in the temptations he suggests. Lewis does an incredible job of describing how even the devil can use prayer to place a block between us and God. Screwtape, the older demon, says this: "When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment." Wow. How often do we do this very thing? Did I not spend yesterdays prayer time asking to be forgiven, feeling as though I was not because of a lack of feeling? Our prayer lives, our communication with God, is even tainted by the sting of sin. I am just so glad that we have a Father on our side who knows this very fact, a Father who doesn't expect perfection from us, but who provided perfection on the cross. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit can intercede where we do not know how, because before my God I do not even know how to speak.