I have moved along way in the last twelve months on my attitude to prayer. Actually, God has moved me along way on that journey, although I am still a million miles off the destination.
I was always unhappy with my prayer life – I think that was a combination of unrealistic goals and ideas on the place and purpose of prayer. A mistaken idea of God’s character and the usual baggage of putting myself at the centre instead of the Lord. And being unprepared for spiritual opposition.
In the face of my challenge this year, of loving God’s people, I was soon reminded that the first place to start was prayer.
I thought I might share some of my journey and the things I have learnt about prayer, and books which have been a great resource.
Sometime ago, I had the opportunity to read through Elisabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael called A Chance to Die, which is an amazing read, and later while reading Elisabeth Elliot's book, Keeping a Quiet Heart, I came across some notes she had recorded whilst researching the biography. These notes were reflections Amy made on why prayer is so hard, and with reference to some well chosen Bible passages, she also wrote about what will help us most with this struggle.
Amy hit home in pinpointing what it is I struggle with when it comes to prayer. Maybe you do too.
Do you ever feel ‘what is the point’,
…God has it all sorted, what difference can I make? I know this has been a major handicap to my prayer life. If we feel there is no point, or maybe you feel you are too insignificant to be heard by the Lord of the universe, Amy reminds us that we must remember it is in the name of Jesus that we come to God and “His ear is always open to that Name.” We can approach God with confidence He will hear us.
What about that to do list that looms large each day?
Are you like me… I’ll just get that load of washing on first, and oh better load the dishwasher and…. If we feel distracted by all there is to do, we should remember that it is Satan that is trying to confuse our priorities. He wants us to believe there are more pressing concerns than prayer. He hates us to pray. As shown by both the obstacles we face when we set out to pray and be still in the Lord, and the lack of the same when we choose getting on with the to do list over prayer.
Does praying sometimes just seem to require too much energy
…effort you can’t seem to muster? Or is there something unconfessed weighing on our hearts which is keeping a barrier between us and our time with the Lord. Amy reminds us that our discouragement from weariness, weakness or remembering past sin can be overcome by remembering the Lord’s words the following passages; 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 44:22, Psalm 27:8 and in 2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
I have to share this post by Scooper at Miss A La Mode called For the girl who just can’t pray. When I read it, I recognised myself in her words. She captures completely the weariness of soul that can sometimes paralyse our prayer life and give guilt a strangle hold.
Finally I will leave you with a quote from an essay Elisabeth Elliot wrote in Keeping a Quiet Heart, entitled Why bother to pray? This opened my eyes in a big way to the responsibility of prayer in a Christians life.
…prayer is a law of the universe. God ordained that certain physical laws should govern the operation of this world. Books simply will not stay put on a table without the operation of the law of gravity. There are spiritual laws as well. Certain things will not happen without the operation of prayer. God could cause books to stay on tables by what theologians call “divine fiat.” Everything we pray for could occur in the same way, but that is not how things were arranged. Pascal the great French thinker, said that in prayer God gives us “the dignity of causality.”
Wow – God has work for us to do!