Church · Feb. 2019 Posts · Theology

The Struggle to Pray

Praying consistently is a challenge for me. And I say this as a co-leader of a church ministry designed to pray. Ironic, isn’t it? But it’s true. You know what’s easy for me? Planning. I can plan and vision cast and talk about global events for hours on end, but ask me to lead prayer for more than 10 minutes and I tend to get antsy. Why? I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with control.

I’ll give you an example of my struggle in this area. Our church hosted a missions conference last weekend and I led a prayer time for our missionaries. We wound up praying for two hours and I loved it. But you know what my greatest fear was going into it? That people would get bored because of how I structured the prayer time. We were about to talk to the creator and sustainer of the universe “. . .who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light” and is “. . . the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God. . . ” (1st Timothy 6:16, 1:17) and my greatest fear was facilitating a public interaction with him that might be considered boring. How hypocritical and appallingly short-sighted of me.

But why am I admitting this publicly?

Three reasons:

  1. Naming that fear helps me see how absurd it is
  2. Owning that fear helps me combat it as spiritual warfare
  3. Renouncing that fear helps destroy its power over me

It’s quite likely I’ll keep struggling in this area, not just because of personal spiritual warfare, but because praying together is decidedly counter-cultural. Creating a communal space that focuses mental and emotional energy on eternity in the midst of our frenetic, fragmented, distracted, entertainment-driven culture, risks being labeled “boring” or “burdensome” in comparison.

And, to be fair, will parts of these prayer times together seem boring? Probably. Do I need to structure our time as effectively as possible to combat that? Undoubtedly. Am I still learning how to do that? Absolutely. But how else do we expect the Spirit to move in our hearts and lives if we don’t ask him to meet with us while we wait expectantly on him in prayer? And what more encouraging place to do that than in fellowship with other believers who desire the same thing?

In 2 Corinthians 12:9b Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I want to do the same. Because then the beauty, encouragement, mercy, grace, awe, and joy that fills us when we pray together has nothing to do with me or anyone else in the room. Instead, it has everything to do with the “. . .glory, majesty, dominion, and authority. . .” of our risen Savior who is worthy of all praise and adoration both now and into all eternity.