Why is prayer so difficult? Why do people struggle with praying?
Prayer can feel confusing. Prayer can seem ominous. Some people are intimidated by prayer. They feel like they have to be in church, or at the very least in a proper position of prayer. Some people tend to feel like they haven’t been “good enough” to pray, and some people feel that prayer is reserved for when you really need it. I use to have a friend who, when someone would suggest they pray about something, he would jokingly say, “Has it come to that?” Meaning, of course, why hadn’t they prayed already.
Today I want to get back to the basics of prayer.
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1. Prayer Is Talking To God.
When we come to Jesus and receive His sacrifice and forgiveness for our sins, we come into a relationship with God. As in all relationships, we need to communicate with Him. This is what prayer is. Prayer is talking to God. Yes, there are different kinds of prayers and reasons for prayer, but at it’s very core, at it’s most basic state, prayer is simply talking to God. Prayer is expressing your heart, your fears, your joys, and your questions to God. Prayer doesn’t require educated verbiage or a special tone of voice, as a matter of fact Jesus said this:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:5-8
Prayer is not just talking. Listening is also a very important part of prayer. We hear Him through His Word, the Bible, and in our hearts as He speaks to us.
“I will listen to what God the LORD will say; He promises peace to His people, His saints, but let them not return to folly.” Psalm 85:8
2. Prayer Is Confession.
Prayer is a time to confess our sins, our wrong doings and bad attitudes to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness. When we try to cover up our sin or hide it from the Lord (like we can do that) it can create a division or a distance between us and the Lord. It is very important to keep our hearts and our relationship, right with the Lord.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 KJV
3. Prayer Is Praise And Worship.
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Praise is giving God thanks for all He has done. Worship is acknowledging who God is: His Lordship, His majesty, His sovereignty and power. Praise and worship is an important part of prayer because it reminds us who God is and how great He is. It keeps our perspective and our hearts in the right place with Him.
“I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:12 NIV
4. Prayer Is Supplication.
This is probably what most people define as prayer: bringing our needs to the Lord. Prayer is when we ask God to work in a situation, to provide, to heal, to guide and direct. Many people feel like they should only bring the “big things” to God for His help. God wants us to bring ALL our needs to Him. Remember we are in a relationship with Him. He is our heavenly Father. He desires to meet our needs. Nothing is too small for God and nothing is too big for God.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
5. Prayer Is Continuous.
A lot of people feel that prayer needs to happen at certain times, or in certain places. That is true. There are fitting times and places for prayer, and those should be held in reverence and honor. But God teaches us in His Word that prayer is a continuous, open line of communication with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” NIV Other translations say, “without ceasing” KJV or “Keep on praying.” NLT. This doesn’t mean we are on our knees all day, it means we remain in an attitude of prayer, making God a part of all the things in our life.
“Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18 NLT
God is making it clear that we are to keep talking to Him. In relationships the key is to just keep talking. It is when we shut down and quit communicating that our hearts grow cold.
6. Prayer Is Effective.
Finally, prayer is important because it works. There is power in prayer. Some prayers are answered right away, and some take time, but God does answer. His answer maybe yes, it may be no, it may be wait, but He always answers if we listen.
“This is what the LORD says, He who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it, the LORD is His name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” Jeremiah 33:2-3
“…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV
There is so much that could be said about prayer. I imagine there are more books on prayer than one could read, and more sermons than one could listen to. The very basic point of prayer is… pray! It is good to learn as much as you can about it, but it is more important to do it! Talk to God.
Talk to Him whenever and however. I like to pray on walks. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “Power Walk”! I often pray through journaling. I find it easier to express my feelings with a pen in my hand. I pray when I’m working. I pray when I’m driving. The car is a great place to pray. (Thank you Bluetooth… before when people saw me praying in the car they thought I was crazy, now they just assume I’m on the phone.) I pray about all the things in my heart and on my mind. I know God cares about all of it, because He loves and cares about me.
I want to encourage you today to pray, to talk to God. Even if it feels odd to you, open the lines of communication with God. Tell Him what is on your heart, He’s want’s to talk to you.