There is a difference between what we do together and what we experience alone. Donne is talking about how one is dragged to worship. One is not always there willingly. You are there by obedience alone.
But to God you submit, for unsubmitted you know your pain is greater, and your life efforts in vain. You can get there by prayer and meditation, but more frequently we get there by mistakes, repentance, and regret.
Eliot preferred the Herbert.
The difference that I wish to emphasize is not that between the violence of Donne [“Batter my heart”] and the gentle imagery of Herbert [“Prayer (I)”], but rather a difference between the dominance of intellect over sensibility and the dominance of sensibility over intellect. Both men were highly intellectual, both men had very keen sensibility: but in Donne thought seems in control of feeling, and in Herbert feeling seems in control of thought. … In Donne’s religious verse, as in his sermons, there is much more of the orator; whereas Herbert, for all that he had been successful as Public Orator of Cambridge University, has a much more intimate tone of speech.
The difference which I have in mind is indicated even by the last two lines of each sonnet. Donne’s … is, in the best sense, wit. Herbert’s … is the kind of poetry which … may be called magical. – T. S. Eliot. “George Herbert.”
Enough. Both poems ring true, for both are fairly universal experiences for the faithful.
BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due, 5
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie: 10
Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinners towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-daies world transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The Milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bels beyond the starres heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices; something understood.
George Herbert, The Temple, 1633