The Reason to Pray, Even When It’s a Struggleby Cynthia Jennings on April 28, 2021
Prayer has been one of the greatest challenges in many Christians lives. Whereas Christians are commanded, encouraged, invited and often compelled to pray, there is still a struggle to pray. Most struggles rest in primarily three areas.
The struggle with concentration: We struggle with concentration because our flesh is weak. (Mathew 26:41). Why is it that as soon as I bow my head to pray, my thoughts start to scatter? Instead of communication with God, I think about what to cook for dinner, what’s on my too do list, why are the birds chirping so loud. We also have difficulty suppressing physical tiredness and challenges. Perhaps there are days when our mind grows tired. Or we’re physically exhausted from work, from our children, and possibly from weakness due to an illness. There are times when physical weakness is connected to spiritual weakness. When the body is weak, our minds can think wrong thoughts about God, and our hearts can begin to believe those thoughts.
If you’re like me, I’ve caught myself falling asleep like the disciple (Matthew 26:40; Mark 14:37). During those moment of lapse, I find myself embarrassed and upset that I didn’t labor in prayer. From experience, I learned to bounce back and pray, “Lord strengthen my mind and body to pray.” Remember, even the simplest prayer can be a catalyst for effective, fervent prayers to the Lord.
The struggle with consistency: The struggle with consistency is tied to our faith being weary (Mark 9:24). How often are you distracted by the beeps and buzzing of your phone? The distraction of did I finish what was on my to do list? Or you’re so busy you jump out of bed at the last minute, start your day without any real prayer at all. In making time daily to meet with the Lord in prayer, we sometimes encounter seasons where faith is diminished. Pain and trials can be factors in a diminished faith. Unanswered prayer can be difficult to understand. And when God’s promises seem unanswered, we wonder if He is even listening to our request.
We must remember, during seasons of unanswered prayer, God hears you. He is at work. We must fight to believe and trust the Lord, even when we cannot see him at work. “God, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-25) is a simple prayer to say. In those moment when you have no theological verbiage to pray. Simple and sweet. Straightforward and honest is all the consistency needed to combat weariness in prayer.
The struggle with content: We struggle with content because our pattern is wrong (Matthew 6:7). Sometimes, we approach prayer with the wrong pattern. We spend more time focusing on personal needs than addressing “our Father who is in heaven.” God is to be glorified. He is to be adorned, and he is to be worshiped. Following a pattern for prayer is helpful and keeps us from becoming distracted by a personal wish list. Biblical patterns direct our thoughts back to God. For the disciples, prayer was a difficult discipline that needed refinement. They grasped their need to pattern their prayers, so they watched Jesus pray. Jesus provided the disciples (and us) a helpful pattern to be modeled and exercised. Matthew 6 is a great example of how God is exalted, sins are confessed and needs expressed.
The enemies’ job is to keep you distracted from praying. In those moments when prayer is a struggle try this tool: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS).
Remember, the purpose of prayer is not just to get answers. The purpose is to develop an intimate, personal relationship with the One who loves you, gave Himself for you and longs for you to live in the light of His presence. Achieving this purpose makes the struggle more than worthwhile.
PEARLStoPONDER: Pattern yourself after Jesus in order to refine the discipline of prayer.
Jeremiah 29:12- Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
Psalm 145:18-- The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Matthew 6:6-- But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Romans 8:26--26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18-- 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Hebrews 4:16-- Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.