Prayer Isn’t Easy

The title of this post may sound strange coming from a pastor. But I want to be honest…I find the discipline of prayer to be challenging. There is a sense in which this reality perplexes me. Typically, I find that the more I engage in an activity the more adept I become in that activity. The exception to this rule in my life has been prayer (and golf……but I digress).

I pray everyday and, as I read the Scriptures more and more, I struggle less with knowing what I ought to be praying for. Even still, I find prayer to be a challenge. As I pray, I struggle to focus. I struggle to keep distracting thoughts at bay. I struggle to appropriately engage my emotions for the things I’m praying about. I may pray everyday, but I confess there are occasions when I go for hours without even thinking about my need to communicate with God. That’s not good. I realize that goes against the instruction of the apostle Paul, who writes, “pray without ceasing” (1Thessalonians 5:17).

This Sunday I will be speaking about prayer. I really like what I’ve got written down so far. I’m not struggling with my talk so much as I’m struggling with the walk part. I want to pray in a way that matches what I’ll be exhorting others to on Sunday. I want to be focused in my prayers. I want to pray for the things that matter most to God. And I want to care immensely about the things I’m praying for. I don’t want to simply say prayers; I want to pray. I want to wrestle with God’s will, and I want Him to wrestle back, bending my will to His.

I’m excited about Sunday. I’m charged up by the prospect of speaking about prayer. But I wouldn’t want someone to hear me on Sunday and think that this thing called prayer is a ‘piece of cake’. No, prayer isn’t easy……but it is essential. Prayer is our lifeline to God. Prayer is the channel through which grace flows to you and to me.

How do you find prayer? What do you find to be most challenging? Most exciting? Most perplexing? Most rewarding?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. On Sunday, I’ll post mine (in audio form).

5 thoughts on “Prayer Isn’t Easy

  1. I love Praying. I pray when I walk my kids to school or while walking the dog. I like to pray for my neighbours and strangers that i pass on the way.
    I find it challenging praying with my older kids that are teenagers. Thanking God for a nice day and family doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. I wrestle with the effectiveness of prayer in general. Do my prayers really make a difference? Doesn’t God do what he wants in spite of my prayers? I wonder what the point is in praying for healing when I don’t believe God is going to heal. Prayer comes naturally to me and its what we are called to do. I look forward to hearing your audio on Sunday….

  2. Thanks for the comment Kelly! Your perspective was refreshing to read. Glad to know I’m not alone in my wrestling with certain aspects of prayer.

    On the issue of God answering prayer, I wonder what you might think of my notes from a message entitled, ‘Expect Answers’ ( http://www.reformedtheology.ca/answers.htm ) . That message was born a few years back out of my own struggle with the subject.

  3. God’s doing something right now, Bryn. I’m also preaching on prayer (The Lord’s Prayer specifically, but also prayer in general), our Church School (www.God’sKids) is studying a unit on prayer, and my friend Fred Stewart over at Amberlea is preaching about prayer, as well. I get excited when I know that a bunch of us preacher-types are talking about the same thing at the same time. God’s at work in that.

    I struggle with prayer, too. I try to make it my practice when I come into the office in the morning to drop my laptop in my study, and then go into the Sanctuary to pray. Today, I walked the labyrinth that we’ve got for 2 Sundays of our prayer series. I also dedicate a time of prayer at the end of the day. Depending on the day, I pray when I’m alone in my car, or just doing other random things. Still, sometimes it’s hard to focus, sometimes it’s hard to know WHAT to pray for, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to just do it.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Sunday (or probably Monday, since that’s when I’ll have time to sit down and listen).

    Cheers,
    R.

  4. Bryn, as Rebekah has said, God is on to something here. I notice that Carey is also addressing this issue in his blog. Theological debates about whether prayer changes God’s mind aside (and that’s some big aside, as you know), the simple discipline is a huge matter. I try to look at prayer in two ways – the ‘set aside, intentional’ kind, that goes with my devotions and mealtimes, and the ‘moment-by-moment conversation’ kind. I like to think of every breathing moment as a time of prayer, knowing that the Sovereign God is with me in everything I do. There are times when what I do probably makes God uncomfortable hanging out with me, but it’s me who has to deal with that issue. Prayer is, for me, as one author put it, a matter of life and breath.

    But there are days when I don’t want to pray. Frankly, Tuesday was one of them. I set aside a whole day every month where my only appointment is with the Lord, and this time, I seemed to be giving him the silent treatment. Until I sat down at the piano. Somebody way smarter than me once said, “One who sings prays twice.” And as I played the piano, I began to sing along (something I’m not that experienced at). And my funnelled prayer line began to open up once again.

    I look forward to hearing, and hearing about, your Sunday message. Being real with folks about our own struggles in prayer, as leaders, can be encouraging and empowering for them. God’s best!

    Passionately His,
    Jeff

  5. I can’t focus on all that is happening with my life. Prayer just reminds me of how scattered and desperate I am for calm

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