In my last post about what my marriage has taught me, I mentioned that prior to getting married I struggled with “Praying constantly” as Paul instructs in 1 Thessalonians 5.
What I found out through that post and your responses is that I am not alone in that struggle!
This got me thinking about why we struggle so much in prayer. When God created us, the first thing He did after breathing life into us was talk to us. We were created with the purpose of communicating with our Creator. So what is it about the act of praying that is so hard or foreign to us? The quick and easy answer to this question would of course be “because of sin” but I think that to best confront the issue – we need to dig in deeper. So, I asked myself and some of my close gal pals what they struggled with the most when it came to prayer, and here is what I found; In short, we’ve all believed a bunch of lies.
Lie #1: “I don’t have time to pray”
To be totally honest – this was my #1 excuse too. I was made to believe that prayer had to be this long and lengthy thing to be effective, and that I didn’t have time for all that. What happened as a result, was that my prayers would end up being quick and rushed, repetitive, and often without heart. I would then be left feeling as if God doesn’t listen, or care, and wondering why I felt so disconnected from Him.
Truth #1: Did you know that under your battery tab in your settings, it tells you how much time you’ve spent with each app pulled up? It is currently 12PM and as of right now, within the last 24 hours of my time, 1.5 hours has been spent with Instagram pulled up on my screen, and 30 minutes with Facebook. Two of my twenty-four hours have been spent using just two of my social media apps – this doesn’t include the time spent texting, tweeting, snapping or googling (yes googling. I google a lot okay?!) These numbers represent my life after discovering the truth about how much time I have for prayer – can you imagine what they were before?
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that social media has a place and purpose in my life that can be used by God in a positive manner – but by no means is social media more important than God. The truth is that my priorities were askew – it wasn’t that I didn’t have time to pray, it’s that I wasn’t making room for prayer. God convicted my heart and revealed to me that my first thoughts in the mornings were about social media, not Him, so I cut out all social media for almost two months and got my heart right. Since making time for prayer in my day, I have felt a closeness to God like never before.
Each one of us has the same exact twenty-four hours in a day and, at times it may really seem like other people have much more time than we do, but that couldn’t be further than the truth. My pastor once said that “Wherever you spend your time, money, or energy – that is where your heart is”.
To take it a step further, God is omnipresent – which is just a fancy way of saying that He is always present. If He is always present, then that means that there isn’t a single hour in our 24 hour days where He isn’t available to hear us – we are without excuse on this one sisters
Lie #2: “It doesn’t feel like God is listening”
There have been times in my life, and the lives of my close friends, where we have prayed over something several times and it feels like God isn’t listening or isn’t moving. In our humanness, we end up getting frustrated and feel unheard or unseen by God.
Truth #2: The Bible has a lot to say about prayer, and as I was preparing to write this post I spent some time reading the various passages about prayer and I discovered for myself a truth that my mentor had been teaching me all year – sometimes sin gets in the way.
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” – Isaiah 59:2
There is a reason why the Israelites had to atone for their sins before entering God’s presence and there is a reason why Jesus, when He gave us the model prayer asked for the forgiveness of sins…God can’t be where sin is also.
Now before anyone reading this starts to freak out – remember that Jesus paid the ultimate atoning sacrifice so that sinners like you and I can stand in the presence of God and speak with Him. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still be seeking His forgiveness when we sin against Him – Yes, your sins (past, present, and future) are covered in the blood of Jesus and yes, you’re forgiven, but we should still be seeking God’s conviction so that we are able to repent as sin comes up in our lives. Because if you’re anything like I am – the “flesh” still gets the best of me some days and I have to check myself and wrangle it in. This process is apart of our sanctification – and should be a vital part of our prayer life. God delights in a repentant heart and loves when His daughters turn away from their sins and turn towards Him.
The second truth I want to establish is that any righteous prayer is heard, and anything asked in Jesus’ name will be done…
It just might not look like the answer you were hoping for.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
And your ways are not my ways.
This is the Lord’s declaration,
For as heaven is higher than earth,
So My ways are higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
We pray out of our humanness, and often what we think we know isn’t even really what we ought to know. We’re down here praying for things that makes God shake His head and say “that’s a terrible idea!” Praise Yahweh that not only did He make a way for us to speak with God, but the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us in prayer so that we pray as we should (Romans 8:26-27) according to the will of God.
As His daughters, we must know and trust that God is working good in our lives, always (Romans 8:28). If we have believed the lie that God isn’t really listening to us when things don’t go the way we plan, then we must repent and ask God to grow our faith in Him and remove the veil from our eyes. I promise you sister, He is there listening to everything.
Lie #3: “I struggle to believe that God can”
I think this might be the biggest lie of all – and this is also something I have personally struggled with. We live in a world today where it seems like the needs of the hurting are far to great to ever be helped. We end up agreeing to pray over people and situations that from our human perspective seem hopeless and beyond repair, and then end up in the feels. Overwhelmed and intimidated. So instead of praying in faith, we pray in doubt.
Truth #3: One name. Saul of Tarsus.
He was a well-educated, prominent, Jewish man, of the Law. He knew his scriptures and was extremely zealous for God. He also murdered first century Christians. At the time, no one could have been more without hope, or so beyond helping.
When the early church prayed for God to get rid of Saul – I highly doubt they ever imagined He would answer their prayers by converting Saul into Paul and making Him one of their dearly loved brothers in Christ. Where Peter, John, Barnabas, and all the other early Christians saw nothing but terror and destruction – God saw a man who would help to shape the Christian church and live out the ‘Great Commission’. If a hateful man like Saul was changed by the love of Christ – then we are not without hope today!
Bottom line sisters – we have all believed a lie or two about prayer.
These lies are meant to keep us from fully stepping into a relationship with the Father where we go to Him in prayer over everything – because the prayers of His daughters are mighty and powerful, and it freaks Satan out.
Jesus Christ died on a cross so that you and I could have a deep relationship with God, apart from the Law and regardless of our sins. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that prayer is a gift, and one of the many mercies of God given to us by His grace. (Thank you, Jesus, that I don’t have to kill a sheep, dance a jig, and do 40 push-ups just to be able to talk with you!!)
Thank you for your grace and mercy on us. Thank you for making a way where there was no way to be found and thank you for bringing us back to You. Lord, we ask that you forgive us for believing the lies about prayer – forgive us for our laziness, forgive us for our selfishness, forgive us for our unbelief. We ask that you give us a deep desire for prayer and a longing to communicate with You in all things. Thank you, Lord, that you hear us and you answer us according to your goodness. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Surprise! For making it through another blog post entirely, I wanted to give something back to you all. Click Here to download the Let Us Pray printable prayer journal!