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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

More Struggles with Prayer

In the past several weeks I have spoken with a number of people who are struggling with prayer.  Everything from not understanding why God did not grant a request to not understanding why we need to pray when the Scripture says that God knows what we need before we ask.  There are Biblical responses to those positions but they are not necessarily easy.
More Struggles with Prayer
I struggle with prayer.  My struggle is probably somewhere in the middle of that continuum.  It has become clear to me that I do not have the faintest clue how to pray very effectively.

So what is one to do?

It is clear from the model of Scripture that we are supposed to pray.  Jesus did.  Paul did.  David did.  Some of their prayers are recorded.

A place to start may be to look at some of their prayer and see if there are some guidelines that we can follow.  The problem with that is those guidelines can become routine and essentially kill the relationship.  Using the prayers of Jesus, David, or Paul rote is without heart.

So what do we do?

If John 15:5 is true, perhaps we need to abide in Christ.  Not abiding results in our not being able to do anything.  The implication seems to be if we abide in Him, we can.  Prayer would seem to fit that promise.

So perhaps our task is to do what the disciples did in Luke 11:1, ask the Lord to teach us to pray.  That is what I have been doing.  The lesson for me is taking some time.  It is taking some effort.  I am not patient.  I want results and I want them now…  But, it seems that the Lord is on a different timetable.  It occurs to me that I will spend eternity learning how to better communicate with Him…  A few months or years here working on that communication seems trivial in comparison.


  1. Learning to pray doesn't seem so easy, and of course I suppose we should not be surprised: our fleshly nature, the devil and certainly the world of godless distractions will only oppose us.

    One idea I've found can be helpful is to adapt a thoughtful personalization of a Bible prayer, and certainly the Psalms are full of ripe material. And the prayers of the Apostle Paul are rich beyond my own imagination, and I often find my Bible study raises some matter over which I want to pray for myself and my family as well as others I pray for.

    During my wife's last minutes of life on this earth and we had all life supporting aids disconnected except her respirator, the three oldest grandchildren (6-11 years old) gathered around her bed and each presented her with a picture they wanted her to have. The creativity and depth of each was beyond my grasp at the time One was "Grandma dancing in heaven."

    The six year old presented her with a series of trees, beginning with a seed in the ground on the left, successively growing larger and stronger in five or six stages to a healthy tree with bright red fruit on the right. The title: What Grandma prayed for us, that our roots would grow deep.

    Over the next few weeks I finally saw posted in different places around the kitchen and in her office Jeremiah 17:7,8: "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

    She was a giant in prayer, and for months I saw things coming to pass that I know she had been praying for. Most of all, I know she prayed regularly and biblically for me. I suddenly felt very vulnerable.

    I try never to say, "I lost my wife...." As someone sagely reminded me, when you know where something is, it's not lost." Nope, she is not lost. We're just separated for a time, "a moment" in the Apostle Paul's cosmology.

    But I have lost her companionship, her wisdom, her sense of God's will in so many situations, and her prayer life - everything I loved about her.

    Somehow her prayers are still alive, still coming into being. She knew how to pray because she loved God, and knew His Word in the most practical ways. The wonders of God are endless!