Do you find prayer difficult? In some ways it is a silly question because I have never consciously met anyone who has said to me ‘prayer is easy’ and ‘my prayer life is good’ and if we are honest we all struggle with this key area of Christian living.
We may have tried to emulate Jesus, getting up while it is still dark and finding a place alone (i.e. without distractions) and praying only to find we are tongue tied or our minds wander.
We may know of someone in great need who asks us to pray and we promise to do so and then promptly forget.
We may have been invited to join a 12 or 24 Prayer Vigil and declined because we know deep down that we couldn’t last the course.
And yet Jesus’ example, Jesus teaching, and the way we hear Paul pray for the churches to which he wrote, (usually in the opening chapter of his letters to them), should drive us to pray, but how often we fail!
The Church Prayer Meeting is often the least well attended of any meeting in many churche’s week.
Is it because we don’t see the need? On Wednesday I wrote about being anxious and anxiety arises when the pressure is on so listen to Peter in his first letter –
“Casting all your anxieties upon him (God) for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5.7
What a reason to pray! God will take our anxieties on himself and bear them for us.
Is it because we don’t know what to say? If that is the case we need to think about who God is and then realise that he delights to hear our prayers.
Is it because we find our minds wandering then perhaps it would be good to heed these comments, rightly or wrongly attributed to Spurgeon.
It is said that he once told a woman that ‘he never prayed for more than five minutes’! Seeing the shocked look on her face he went on to add in his inimitable way, ‘but there’s not an hour when I don’t pray’!
I find that a helpful and a challenging thought.
Try, as you have you daily Quiet Time, just to pray for five minutes, unburdening yourself of the immediate things that are on your mind and marvelling at what you have just read about God and his dealings with his people in his word. Don’t try and cover the whole world but do try to prayer like that, every waking hour.
I close today with this quote from Trevor Archer (Training Director for the FIEC) to whom I am indebted for the Spurgeon story. Having repeated the story he adds
I have always sought to keep that in mind. I fear we overemphasise individual prayer at the expense of the weight given in the Bible to plurality in prayer. My best prayer has always been with others, whether in small or larger numbers, not least the church prayer meeting.
(Source Evangelicals Now July Edition in the regular feature ‘Ten Questions’ asked of a Christian Leader)
I would personally echo his final sentence. Try it and see if it is true for you.