Has your prayer life ever sounded like this?
Dear Lord and Father,
Help me now to come before your word and hear your voice. Help me – oh I forgot to lock the car! Sorry God, just got distracted. I pray that you would open my mind and heart and – I must remember to pick up some milk on the way home! Should I go out after church this week, it will be a busy week, maybe I should get home and get to bed instead! Whoops, get back to praying, Sorry God. Where was I? Something about opening my mind… oh that’s right, I pray that you will help me to obey what you want me to obey – I wonder if I will see Steve after church – oh not now, God help me to focus and I pray ….I can’t remember – well in Jesus Name Amen!
Is it just me, or are there times when you struggle to pray? Christians know they should pray, it is wonderful to have an open line to the only God of the universe, yet that doesn’t mean Christians always find it easy! Sadly, we often fail in the area of prayer, and it can lead to disillusionment and lack of discipline in this important area of the Christian life.
Here we look at the essential and practical Christian topic of – prayer. Prayer is quite simply, talking to God. Christians do have God’s listening ear and so how do we faithfully make the most of this wonderful privilege?
Prayer can be a struggle
Let us recognise the struggle before we look at the blessing. Why can prayer be a struggle?
If a Christian misunderstands prayer, then all sorts of implications follow. It may feel like a pointless exercise (is God really listening?). It could feel unnatural (am I really talking to someone?). Prayer can be devalued because we think we can handle things ourselves (and often the burdens we have are not severe enough to make us think otherwise). Prayer can be taken for granted, especially if answered prayers are ignored! Prayer gets lost in the busyness of life (and the idea of stopping to discipline oneself in prayer is just too difficult with the many other things that demand our attention). And prayer, is not something that the devil or the world wants Christians to do!
What is prayer?
What is prayer? Prayer is fundamentally an expression of relationship. It shows that Christians enjoy open access to God. It is one of the blessings that Christ won for us! Without Jesus dying on our behalf, without Jesus opening up a way to bring us to God, prayer would be pointless. Because of Christ, Christians have an open line to God and that is in part expressed in our ability to pray.
Prayer happens when you talk to God. It could be to praise him, it could be to thank him, it could be to confess to him, it could be to ask him for help. Prayer can be out loud, in our minds, in public or in private. Prayer can be simply between the pray-er and God or be something that several people do as they together talk to God.
Prayer is a communal activity in that a Christian prays to the Father, with the Holy Spirit interceding, in the name of the Lord Jesus. Pray does not cost, it is something anyone can do, and it can happen anywhere, no matter how good or bad the circumstance prompting the prayer might be!
For those who can remember a time when you ‘became a Christian’ – it would have been prayer that was your first act of faith. You would have asked God to be the Lord of your life.
We may look at the inadequacy of our praying and feel the temptation to give up. But God looks at the adequacy of his son and delights in our sloppy meandering prayers, as we come to him as Father. Don’t give up on prayer.
For other articles in this series:
Faithful in Prayer
Talking to God
Prayer in the Bible
Prayer in Western Society
Praying the Lord’s Way
Tips for Prayer