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We Aren’t the First People to Struggle With Prayer

We Aren’t the First People to Struggle With Prayer

It’s not that we don’t pray at all. We all pray some.

On tearstained pillows we pray.

In grand liturgies we pray.

At the sight of geese in flight, we pray.

Quoting ancient devotions, we pray.

We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. We pray when the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the unborn baby hasn’t kicked in a while. We all pray . . . some.

But wouldn’t we all like to pray . . . More?




With more fire, faith, or fervency?

Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet.

The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. We want to pray, but when?

We want to pray, but why? We might as well admit it. Prayer is odd, peculiar. Speaking into space. Lifting words into the sky. We can’t even get the cable company to answer us, yet God will? The doctor is too busy, but God isn’t? We have our doubts about prayer.

And we have our checkered history with prayer: unmet expectations, unanswered requests. We can barely genuflect for the scar tissue on our knees. God, to some, is the ultimate heartbreaker. Why keep tossing the coins of our longings into a silent pool? He jilted me once . . . but not twice.

Oh, the peculiar puzzle of prayer.

We aren’t the first to struggle. The sign-up sheet for Prayer 101 contains some familiar names: the apostles John, James, Andrew, and Peter. When one of Jesus’ disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1 NIV), none of the others objected. No one walked away saying, “Hey, I have prayer figured out.” The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance.

In fact, the only tutorial they ever requested was on prayer. They could have asked for instructions on many topics: bread multiplying, speech making, storm stilling. Jesus raised people from the dead. But a “How to Vacate the Cemetery” seminar? His followers never called for one. But they did want him to do this: “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Might their interest have had something to do with the jaw-dropping, eye-popping promises Jesus attached to prayer? “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7 NIV). “If you believe, you will get anything you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22 NCV). Jesus never attached such power to other endeavors. “Plan and it will be given to you.” “You will get anything you work for.” Those words are not in the Bible. But these are — “If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you” (John 15:7 NCV). Jesus gave stunning prayer promises…

Do you think the disciples made the prayer – power connection? “Lord, teach us to pray like that. Teach us to find strength in prayer. To banish fear in prayer. To defy storms in prayer. To come off the mountain of prayer with the authority of a prince.” What about you? The disciples faced angry waves and a watery grave. You face angry clients, a turbulent economy, raging seas of stress and sorrow. “Lord,” we still request, “teach us to pray.” When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer (Luke 11:1–4)…

Prayer is not a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. My friend, he wants to talk with you. Even now, as you read these words, He taps at the door. Open it. Welcome Him in. Let the conversation begin.

Excerpted with permission from Pocket Prayers by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.

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Your Turn

With the new year just days away, examine the areas of your prayer life that you’d like to see growth in. When you go to sit with the Lord in your quiet time try asking Him to reveal the areas that you need to be awakened in. Come share your prayer goals on our blog!