Prayer

It’s weird how this blog, for me, has begun to morph into a confessional booth. I end up being pretty open with all of you who read this. But, most of the time, this is what I like to write about: the things I’m struggling with. In this continued strain comes this week’s post…

Consistent heartfelt prayer is pretty difficult for me at times. Here are some reasons why.

1. I often don’t fully believe the words that I’m praying (see my previous post).

2. I have a hard time understanding why I pray. Is it for me? Is it for God? Is it for other people? You see, maybe I’m the only one, but I have a hard time really believing that my prayers matter. Does God really answer them? Are peoples’ lives, including my own, really changed when I pray? My gut says the answer to these questions is no (I believe this to be a particularly poignant trap for people who adhere to Calvinist or Reformed theology…feel free to discuss but I do not have the time to expound here). But if I open my bible, and if I really believe what it is saying, then my answer must be yes (God is not a genie…he doesn’t always answer our exact prayers…I’m not suggesting that if you want something, you can simply ask God for it and he automatically will give it to you).

Over and over again, the bible shows God answering prayers (Daniel 9, John 11, 1 Kings 18, etc.). Elsewhere it commands us to make our requests known to God in prayer (Phil. 4:6, Eph. 6:18). So, while God can do whatever he wishes without any help or action on our part, he gives us the opportunity to actively participate by having prayers and petitions answered.

3. I don’t think I need anything. Prayer, by definition really, is a confession that I am not in control, it is an appeal to a higher power that has authority that I do not have. This, quite frankly, can be downright offensive in our culture today. We’re trained to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” and control over our lives is assumed and encouraged.

But this isn’t really true. I’m not in complete control of my life. I need help, I need more wisdom, more faith, more sensitivity to others, more peace. But before I can ask for these things, I have to admit that I need them and that I can’t do it on my own.

“When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer.” – Donald Whitney

4. Praying is often an affront to my pride. I’d much rather see tangible results due to my own effort. I want to gain wisdom on my own, I want to conjure up more faith by the goodness of my heart and the soundness of my intellectual ability.

And if I’m praying for other people, I’d rather see their lives get turned around because of some nugget of wisdom I’ve given, or a lesson, or a blog post (chuckle, chuckle). Because in all of those scenarios, I’d get the credit. I’d get the honor. But in having their lives or my life changed due to prayer, God gets the credit and the honor and the glory. All of which, he of course deserves.

Thanks for letting me confess…again.

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