It is not always easy to pray. I hate to admit it but in my own life there are times I just don’t feel like praying and I find myself thinking, “Do I have to do this again.” I am very embarrassed over confessing this, but honesty is the hallmark of this blog so there it is.
What I have discovered, however, is that regardless of how much I would rather do something else than talk to God in prayer I must make the effort. Prayer is a discipline and it is also a duty. Timothy Keller writing in his book Prayer states, “Prayer should be done regularly, persistently, resolutely, and tenaciously at least daily, whether we feel like it or not.” Prayer p. 121
Those of you who love to pray and can hardly wait to take the time to talk to God have been given a very precious gift. For the rest of us it is a discipline that we must develop and through the exercise of prayer we will not only grow closer to God, but will find more and more joy through our prayers.
Let me say first of all that whether or not we feel like praying, we must pray. In Romans 15:30 Paul wrote, “I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.”
Paul is calling upon his fellow believers to strive with him in prayer for the success of his ministry. To strive means to stick it out in regards to prayer regardless of the ups and downs of your feelings. The key to effective prayer is to not say I can’t pray because I’m not in mood, or I don’t feel like it, but instead pray until you do feel like it. Prayer also has a cumulative effect. The more we pray the more we understand about prayer and the more we will want to pray.
So why is prayer so difficult for so many of us? It is our response to God’s communion with us through His Bible and the Holy Spirit’s whispering in our ear. Satan knows that if we start talking to God and put our trust in Him he will never pry us loose from God. His only hope is to discourage us from developing a consistent and strong prayer life. He throws obstacles onto our good intentions to pray that cause us to stumble and put off prayer till a later time. How many times have you been prepared to pray and suddenly been disturbed by a phone call, the children, or suddenly remembering something that you have to do right that very moment?
Our lives as Christians are involved in a spiritual warfare. Our hearts desire is to draw closer to God but Satan fights that desire with all his rabid heart. Why is it that so many little things suddenly spring up to distract us when we are preparing to go to church, Bible study or prayer meeting? These are not a coincident but Satan attacking us through the little things of life.
Prayer is hard work regardless of what some people would have us believe. We are not spiritual weaklings because we find it difficult; it is difficult because it is so unnatural. But that is no excuse not to pray. Like I mentioned earlier that prayer is a discipline and that means sacrifice, hard work, and determination.
Timothy Keller reminds us, “While God can and will grant times of peace and tranquility, no Christian outgrows the need to struggle and persevere in prayer.” Prayer p. 123
All the great men and women of prayer made prayer a discipline in their lives or they wouldn’t have prayed. Prayer didn’t come easy for men like Martin Luther or John Calvin. They had strong and productive prayer lives because they fought the impulse to put off prayer till they felt like it and instead prayed regardless.
For those of us who long to be prayer warriors spending precious time communicating with God, we simply must get about the business of prayer. Now the wonder of prayer is that the more we pray the more we will appreciate the privilege we have in being able to communicate with the God of all creation. If you long for God to lead in your life then prayer is the answer to your longings.
Over the next few posts we will look at a number of aspects of prayer by which we can judge the strengths and weaknesses of our prayer lives and grow stronger in the discipline.
* The persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…