Sometimes when I pray, it feels cold and rote. I try to engage God, and maybe I do. It's hard to tell. Often God has a hard time getting my attention, even though I intend to pray.
Then there are times when I feel like the door to heaven is open, and I commune intimately with the Lord. I enjoy him. I feel like I'm in touch with him. This world makes sense through his eyes. I know that he knows me, and it's all OK. It is such blissful harmony. The time feels so productive, because he has renewed my soul. He has heard my pleas, and given me answers.
What makes one prayer time so engaging and effective, while the other prayer time is just flat? On my end, I may be tired or worried or distracted. I may be discouraged or lazy. These mental states will obviously hinder my communion with the Lord.
But could God also close the door of communication? The Bible records stories in which faithful disciples felt far from God. Elijah and Job come to mind. God could make communication difficult for me in order to test me. Will I remain faithful, even when prayer seems useless?
Many spiritual giants through the ages have experienced "dark nights of the soul." During these times, the disciple seeks to enter God's presence, but something isn't right. The disciple may confess, repent, take inventory, and still feel distant from God.
The more I pray, the more times I feel connected with him. But I realize that there may be times when--for his own reasons--God makes that connection more difficult.
Will I keep on loving and adoring him, even when there is no immediate, obvious reward for reaching out to him?