What’s underneath

“Would you like to pray?” the priest asked me, and I froze—caught out in the open, no chance to reach cover.   I winced, uncertain.   How do you explain to a priest that this routine offer is too intimate to accept?  How do you refuse something that is supposed to be no big deal?

They tell you that prayer will bring comfort, but at that moment it felt like bumping into someone in the underwear section of the department store.   We all know that everyone has needs in this department, but we’d rather other people didn’t know too much about just how big our needs are or what’s really going on underneath the selves we show to the rest of the world.

“You pray,” I said, repositioning my emotional bundles to conceal their contents if not their existence—knowing that the gesture itself revealed as much as what was hidden.


  1. Fr. Chuck Treadwell says:

    Oh, the truth of this post! I have encountered this discomfort innumerable times. Even discussing prayer is far too intimate some days. In all the years I have done premarital counseling I have discovered that most couples would far prefer to talk about their sex life with a priest (a weird and twisty reality in and of itself) than they would their prayer life. Your underwear analogy is spot on. And by the way, clergy are not a whole lot more comfortable with this than anyone else. I remember vividly an occasion when a brother priest was telling me about a prostate cancer diagnosis. We talked about the treatments and plans at length. As our time ended I asked him if I could pray for him. He said yes, of course, and we prayed. But at the end of the prayer he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I have told probably 30 priests about my diagnosis. You are only the fourth to offer to pray.” Sometimes its too intimate, for priests especially.
    But oh, the need to have more people in our lives with who we can share prayerful intimacy.

  2. Diana says:

    Spot on! Your words are encouragement and a reminder from God. Encouragement for me to step outside my comfort zone and enter into the intimacy of prayer WITH my fellow journey-ers; reminder that it is a privilege to enter into His presence in prayer. Blessings!

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