The Trouble With Prayer

 “Let my words and my thoughts be pleasing to you, LORD, because you are my mighty rock and my protector.  (Psalms 19:14)

For the past ten years or so I’ve had the privilege of sharing with hundreds of women through small group bible study, conferences, retreats, etc.  In our many discussions, the subject of prayer almost always comes up.  You might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) how many women say they have trouble praying.  Among the reasons given, there are three that stand out in my mind as the most common.

 Trouble #1 – “I’m not sure what I should or shouldn’t pray for” (or similarly)  “I don’t know what to say”.

This is not a new problem.  In Luke 11 Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them to pray.  Jesus answered them by giving  them (and us) a model, a guide for effective prayer.  Praying and personalizing the words Jesus left for us, in what is referred to as The Lord’s Prayer, can be a wonderful way of releasing our spirit and drawing us into a time of prayer.

“My Father in heaven, holy is Your Name.  Let Your kingdom come.  Give me what I need for today.  Forgive me my sins and help me to forgive others.  Keep me from giving in to temptation…”

Another path to prayer, when you don’t know what to pray, are the Psalms. Recorded in this amazing book we see David cry out to God.  We see him sing praises to God. We see him pour out his soul in times of joy, fear, repentance, sorrow, pain, weakness, brokenness.  The Bible tells us that David was “a man after God’s own heart” and isn’t that, after all, what we want for ourselves?

God has given us His word for our instruction and edification.  What greater act of worship can there be than to speak His own words back to Him?  When we pray God’s word, we are aligning our thoughts with His; we are saying “God, I agree with You.  I submit myself to Your will.”

“I praise you, LORD, for being my guide. Even in the darkest night, your teachings fill my mind “. (Psalms 16:7)

 Trouble #2 – “It doesn’t feel right to pray for myself”.

When we pray for ourselves I think we somehow feel we are being selfish, or lacking in humility.  That is not what scripture teaches.  Look in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 17.  In these passages Jesus pleads for Himself, He asks the Father to intervene, to deliver Him. Do we really think He would desire any less for us?  God is our Abba Father, our Papa.  What greater joy is there to the heart of a Father than to have His child come to Him and make his needs known?

saying “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Trouble #3 – “My mind wanders”.

This is probably the struggle that I hear the most.  In case you’ve missed it, as I did for many years, prayer is one of the weapons in our spiritual arsenal (see Ephesians 6:18).  Knowing that, it stands to reason that Satan will do anything and everything to keep us from it.   We have the power to stand firm against his attacks, all we have to do is call on the name of Jesus.  A passage that I often claim, is 2 Corinthians 10:5-6

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”

A great way I’ve found to rid the mind of distractions and bring it back to a place of worship is by singing a hymn of praise.  It doesn’t matter if you can sing or not, God loves it when we lift up our voices in praise to Him.  When we do, He returns our worship with His glory and fills us with His Spirit.

and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)

We know that prayer is an essential part of the Christian walk.  More than that, it is a gift from God – a gift that entitles us to come into the presence of a Holy God with the assurance that He will listen to us. I believe if we could fully comprehend and exercise the power of our prayers, we would get so excited that we would not be able to contain ourselves.

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