It may seem strange, but many believers struggle with prayer. Not because they don’t desire communication with God — the want is there, but actually doing it can be the biggest problem.
If the want is there, then why do some believers avoid praying? Mainly because they think there’s a right way and a wrong way to pray — and they believe they do it wrong. Have you ever heard someone pray so eloquently and then think to yourself that your own prayers sound ridiculous? I’m sure we’ve all been there.
Or maybe the problem is time. Although we may have the desire to pray and might even plan a time for prayer in our daily life, it doesn’t always work out that way. Things come up unexpectedly or we’re just too tired at the end of the day to give prayer a second thought.
And when that happens, guilt can set in. So, because of guilt, we knock out a rushed prayer. We know the prayer sounds ridiculous because we’re rushed and acting out of guilt. And because it sounds ridiculous, we buy into the lie that we don’t know how to pray correctly. Then we ask ourselves, why bother? After all, we’ll never sound like that guy at Bible study who sounds so elegant, right? It can become a vicious circle.
Or, some of us may have a different reason for avoiding prayer altogether. We might tell ourselves praying is useless if God knows the future and is already in control of everything. How can our prayers help in any way? We can’t change God’s mind, so why should we pray?
First and foremost, we pray because God commands us to pray (Philippians 4:6-7). Second, prayer helps us with decisions (Luke 6:12-13), helps us in strengthening others spiritually (Ephesians 6:18-19), and helps us with our own temptations (Matthew 26:41). In fact, Scripture records numerous times where Jesus prayed for these exact reasons (Luke 22:41-44; Hebrews 5:7).
But prayer goes much further than that. God promises that when we go to him in prayer with requests that are in accordance with his will, he will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15). And although he might delay his answer according to his wisdom and for our benefit, Scripture teaches us to remain diligent and persistent with our prayers (Luke 18:1-8).
So, how do we go about making our prayer life a priority? First, we have to commit. What that means is setting aside a specific time for prayer each day where nothing stands in the way of our time with God. That time should be viewed as sacred and precious — a time devoted only to you and God.
Second, don’t get hung up on whether or not you’re praying correctly. Just have an open and honest conversation with God. Are you uncomfortable in his presence? Tell him so. Do you struggle with words? Talk to him about it. Admitting that you struggle with prayer and asking for his help does not anger God. He delights in our honesty and wants to have daily conversation with us. Above all, he wants a close relationship with his followers.
Making a regular commitment to meet with God in prayer won’t be easy. It takes work and a strong will. But rest assured, with time, our conversations with God will become more comfortable and natural — a time we no longer dread but instead, anxiously look forward to. But it has to begin with us.
So why not make a change and carve out some time each day to talk with God? After all, there’s power in the prayer of a righteous person (James 5:16-18), and tapping into that power can have a huge impact in our lives and those around us.
We just have to be willing to talk.
Donna Hughey of Crescent City is an award winning Christian author. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org