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Day Ten - Why is prayer so hard?

Posted by Tim Meier , in 40 Days of Prayer 11 May 2013 · 2377 views

Read: Acts 8
Pray: For the elderly of your church-that God would be near to them and they would feel loved.

Picture yourself listening to an amazing sermon. The challenge is: if you want to be a better Christian you need to:
  • Read your Bible more
  • Go to church
  • Pray more
Ok, not every sermon, but you've heard that before, right?

And yet, what does this stuff even mean? How are we supposed to read our Bibles? How often do I need to go to church? Isn’t there more than this? And then, what does it really mean to pray? No single topic has inspired more books in the Christian faith than prayer. So, why even write anything else? Hasn’t it all been said?

Here’s the problem that I see: Most Christians and people talk big about prayer. In fact, in the Alliance we have a phrase that says “Prayer is our primary work” which means it’s the most important and the first thing we do. But then, most people function as Christian atheists after they pray. It is as if we did our token duty. But now it’s time for us to get to work and hope that the distant God is back there somewhere.

But prayer is not about us fulfilling our duties or even being better Christians. Prayer is the essence of life with God.

Mike Breen uses some great LifeShapes to help describe the discipleship process. His shape on prayer highlights the Lord's prayer as a model for us to get out of the "prayer rut" and figure out what the point it. When Jesus’ disciples came to him they said, “Can you teach us how to pray?” (because obviously you’re making stuff happen around you and we see you praying...) He answers them, "When you pray, pray like this...."

Matthew 6:
Our father who is in heaven hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation
deliver us from evil.
(For YOURS is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, amen).

Of course there is no magic in the formula or in the words, but the essence of prayer is here. Worship. Surrender. Humility. Need. And, I've found, that if we pray in this order, it helps us to see more clearly.
  • Our Father who is in heaven. Prayer is about dependence. It is the conscious realization and declaration that God is the creator; that He’s the one in charge. That’s why Jesus starts the way he does, in worship.
  • Your will be done. Prayer is about releasing control. It is giving God permission to have his way in the world and in your life. Not that he needs it, but this is the mystery of faith. When we say to God “do it,” then for some reason, he chooses to let us participate and he does it.
  • Give us our daily bread. Prayer is about humility. It is saying to God that everything we have comes from him.
  • Forgive us our debts. Prayer is about repentance. It is realizing that we are debtors—we have stolen things that didn’t belong to us like someone else’s dignity, like God’s glory.
  • Deliver us from evil. Prayer is about desperation. Only God can fight spiritual battles. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our real war isn’t even “worldly” but is “otherworldly” and we have no shot at winning that one without God. And yet, with God, all things are possible. Because we know God, we can pray with great expectation that He will deliver.
Prayer is not complicated, but it is hard for one main reason—we don’t want God to invade our lives because it threatens to change our very selves.

I went through a period of my life and ministry when I didn’t want to pray. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe, it’s just that I didn’t want God messing up my life anymore. But, how silly is that? We have access to the very God of the universe. I hope he continues to rearrange things because then He continues to be the focus.

And so the bottom line is: prayer is the invitation for God to rule the world and rule your life. You are asking for an invasion.
Don’t make this too hard. God loves to hear from you. Your prayers don’t have to sound smart or be super long. But they do have to be deep in the sense that it touches your very core. And if you start with worship and surrender, you usually know what to say a lot sooner than when you start with your problems.
  • Take a minute today and pray through the “Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew 6. Stop at each phrase and think about its’ meaning for your life. Ask God to invade your space once again.

  • David Longacre likes this


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