I have been reading Henri Nouwen's "With Open Hands" - and found it packed with helpful thinking on prayer. Nouwen accepts that prayer is not easy. After all, as he puts it: "It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very centre of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched." Of course, it is difficult to do that - and something we naturally resist.
Nouwen suggest that it is rather like a clenched fist. "The resistance to praying is a bit like the resistance of tightly clenched fists." What we need to do is to prise open that clenched fist. We need to let go of all those things that get in the way, and that we are holding on to so tightly, in order that God can engage with us as needed. We need to listen to the words of the angels telling us - 'Don't be afraid!'
So often it is fear that gets in the way of trust. As Nouwen puts it: "Each time you dare to let go and to surrender one of those many fears, your hand opens a little and your palms spread out in a gesture of receiving."
It is good to give; but why are we so often so afraid of receiving?