Friday, 19 February 2010
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the concept of prayer. I know that the Scriptures clearly state in many places that prayer is very very important–even vital to the believer–a lifeline between ourselves and heaven. But I haven’t become that mighty ‘prayer warrior’—a force to be reckoned with, just yet. Don’t misunderstand me–I pray each and every day–usually. But for me, it is an ongoing daily struggle–one which I am not at all certain I will ever win.
In fact, I have been inclined lately, to feel a little discouraged over the whole matter. I have a friend who has openly declared (not once, but twice) that for the believer [read: for him], prayer is one of the easiest things in the world. And he should be right!! I mean, we don’t need complex hard to use equipment, or have to go to a special place or chamber for our prayers to be heard, or have to use a particular language or have to address God in some exceptional manner. In fact, we don’t even have to speak at all–we can just think our requests if we want to. Prayer is available to us night or day no matter where we are or what we are doing. We can petition God with as little as one word appeals and He is willing to hear and answer. Prayer is one of the easiest things in the world–right there near at hand! So what’s the problem?
I’m not sure. I don’t think I can put my finger on it exactly, even though I have grappled with the issue off and on for many years. I am aware of two pertinent things Peter said about prayer:
"The same goes for you husbands; Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals, [so that nothing will hinder your prayers--NIV]" (I Peter 3:7 [MSG]).
1. Failing to exercise a high level of honor and respect in our relationships (specifically with our spouses as Peter referred to them here in his letter) will have the effect of "hindering" our prayers.
". . . Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (I Peter 4:7 [NIV]).
2. Though prayer may be close at hand, it is not going to be readily available to the person who is not learning to think straight and exercising a certain level of discipline in his/her life.
There is one other item I have come across in recent days that has encouraged me to some degree in the continuing struggle I experience with prayer. It is the very familiar passage dealing with the Holy Spirit’s work of interceding for us when we find it difficult if not impossible to express in words what we long to communicate to our God. Though Paul had always been a strong advocate of praying ". . . on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests . . . ," in the context of Romans 8:, Paul very candidly just lets er’ rip:
"We do not know how [or what] to pray for. . . " (Romans 8:26 [NIV]).
What was Paul’s confession here?—That on occasion, he struggled to know what to pray–That he often didn’t know how to pray–Or that he always found it difficult to know what was needed in prayer? I’m not at all certain. But one thing I know; If the inspired Apostle Paul found prayer difficult (even occasionally), then I will not be so discouraged when I often find myself in the uncomfortable and troubling situation of not knowing how or what to pray for. Besides, I am confident in the Spirit’s ability to bear that clumsy or elusive request to the throne of grace so that it is perfectly communicated to my Father in heaven. And that brings me great comfort. How about you?Do you struggle sometimes with the concept of prayer? How do we overcome this struggle? How can we encourage those who are struggling to pray?
". . . Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me . . . . Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should" (Ephesians 6:18-20 [NIV]).