by Carey Stevens
As Christians, prayer isn't something we seek to avoid. It's something we probably really want to do. Even so, not many are satisfied with how much time they spend in prayer. So, why is it so hard?
Here are 3 reasons, and hopefully some tips, to grow in our prayer life.
1. Praying can be boring.
If the words 'prayer' and 'boring' seem intertwined in your brain, remember that you aren't the problem but your method is. Many Christians pray the same things while praying about the same things. Being persistent in prayer isn't the issue, rather, thoughtless repetition can quickly turn into empty prayers.
Most people pray about the same 6 things: Family, future, money, work, church concerns, and a current crisis. This is totally normal. And they're good things to pray about because those things are all a part of life. Keep praying about those things! But when we pray about the same things, in the same way, of course prayer will seem boring. And that's when our desire to pray in any heartfelt or focused way decreases.
To address this, the solution isn't to add more fluff, or to use a thesaurus. Jesus warns us about that in Matthew 6:7-8:
"When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him."
Remember that prayer was designed to be simple. God calls each of His children, including actual young children, to pray! There's no magical formula or rules. It's simply talking to God.
An easy way to get out of the rut of 'boring' prayers is to pray the scriptures. If that's a new concept to you, the best place to start is the Psalms. Read through a Psalm and pray to align your heart and mind with God's, as His Spirit leads you.
Here's a quick example for Psalm 1: Ask for a greater delight in His Word. Repent of too quickly following the ways of sinners. Praise Him that He is the One who does the planting, and that He gives us all we need in order to bear good fruit.
Another simple way is to flip through some of Paul's prayers in his letters and pray along with him. There are many prayers written in the letters to the Thessalonians, Colossians, Philippians, Romans, and Ephesians. All worth the time and effort to pray along with Paul. When we do this, we will be praying in line with God's Spirit-inspired Word. In line with His will. We will realize that God's heart for us isn't as concerned with our physical comfort, but for our holiness. He has a heart for justice, rather than our ease. He will provide all we need, and with Paul we can say, " For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
Our need isn't to be so full of physical comforts, but to be emptied of our dependence on the things of this earth, fully satisfied with Christ. When that's our focus, and when we use God's own words to pray, our prayer lives will become exciting and vibrant.
2. We like being independent.
Prayer is really an expression of dependence and that's the opposite of what a lot of us grew up valuing. Most of us like doing everything on our own, in our own strength. We fall into the trap of thinking that there's no reason to pray since we've got things all figured out on our own.
Someone who is aware of their need for forgiveness and help from God is someone who will spend time repenting, confessing and who will bow their knees before the King. Do you live in a state of rightly viewing who you are before the King? We all need the reminder that we are utterly dependent on the utterly undeserved. And that the Father, our Creator, wants to hear from you and give good gifts to you.
"God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God." (James 4:6-7)
You were made to be dependent. You were created to worship Him. And if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, knew he needed to pray, then what of us? Prayer reminds us of who we are , and who our Father is. And that leads us to our next hang up.
3. Our view of God is too small.
We are prone to think too little of who God is, what He's like and focus solely on our aspirations. We need to think on His wisdom, His glory, His power. Often when we do think about God, we only want to think about His love, without understanding our need for His holiness. If we don't, we're praying for His blessings or power, without praying for more of Him. It's like a shallow, loveless relationship, where one gives His all, and the other just asks for the credit card. Growing and knowing the King rightly, and having a big view of God will transform how we pray and make us eager to exercise the privilege of talking to the King. It's all too easy to ignore a God we don't know, or One we keep shuttered away in a dusty Bible on the shelf. Praise the Lord: Our union with Christ will never fail, he's promised that, but our communion and prayer life with him can seem distant and dreary if we keep a small and wrong view of who He is. Growing in our knowledge of God will increase our fervency to pray. When we know our God is a good and faithful Father, we will trust Him with our cares and concerns and delight to bring Him praise.
Books we recommend on the subject of prayer: