Is there ever a time when our prayer is just "still-born?" When our meditation practice becomes sterile? When spirituality is nothing more than another game we play with ourselves?
It is so easy to get caught up in the monotony of a daily practice... Saying the same prayers everyday. Taking a seat on our cushion, not because it is an opportunity to remember the majesty & dignity of being human, but because it is what "spiritual people" do. When spirituality looses it's vitality we find ourselves simply giving up, or playing the role our ego-centric self image has defined. We either use our lack of inspiration as an excuse to put aside our practice for a while, or we find ourselves pretending that we are super-inspired spiritual juggernauts walking around in the Garden of Eden! Either way, we are missing the point of both prayer and meditation.
Prayer and meditation are vehicles used to transcend the stale-mechanized state of mind, which identifies with a false image. This false image often times becomes heavily invested in a sort of perfectionism that is defined by spiritual virtues. There will no doubt be times when we feel lost and confused. That is simply a consequence of progression; as we move along the path we are bound to discover even subtler forms of confusion. This false image is terrified by these times of confusion because, they do not concur with the image being projected. So we try to run away from the confusion, by refusing to face it or pretending it isn't there. This sort of fear is the primary obstacle we face on the spiritual path because, it keeps suggesting that we get the hell off of this path! However, in truth this fear is far from an excuse not to pray or meditate; it is an invitation to rediscover the wonder of spirituality.
Cultivating the courage to face the mechanized world-view that rejects and suppress spontaneity is the path to freedom. We cannot view suffering as an obstacle to the path because, it is the path. It is only by honestly facing our fear that we can continue to go deeper. When we lack the inspiration to pray with devotion, instead of not praying at all or "praying as if," we can see this as an opportunity to get honest with ourselves. We can pray with our lack of inspiration in mind...
We can't run from the fact that we lack inspiration by giving up our spiritual practice. The motivation to give up one's practice due to a lack of inspiration is just a consequence of the misguided belief that inspiration is a prerequisite for spirituality. Not meditating because one's mind is running all over the place, is like not eating because you are hungry! You will find yourself in an impossible bind if you subscribe to the idea that the reasons for having a spiritual practice are really, the price of admission into the alternate universe of spirituality. The purpose of prayer is to discover inspiration in the midst of confusion; not to gloat or boast! If you are at perfect peace and ease with yourself and the world around you why would you sit down to meditate?
The whole movement of spirituality is one of reconciliation or integration. We have to rediscover honesty; that is to say, a sort of gut level honesty with ourselves. We have to become willing to accept ourselves completely. This begins with cultivating a state of mind, which is spacious enough to accommodate our whole being; the good and the bad. Discovering this spacious state of mind is the point of prayer and meditation. I pray that everyone will come to see confusion and negativity as an invitation to to look within, and not as a barrier preventing them from entering the path of spirituality.