Prayer is a strange thing. In some ways, it’s the most natural thing in the world. We sometimes can’t really help ourselves in crying out to God in times of distress or anxiety. Even atheists admit to praying at times as they frantically send cries for help to heaven, even though they they don’t think anyone hears. On the one hand, we pray almost naturally, spontaneously, and in other ways, prayer feels difficult, intimidating and strange. I think we can all relate to wondering, as we pray with all the faith we can muster, whether God really hears us and whether our prayers make any difference.
It brings me comfort to know that we are not alone in this. Even the great heroes of faith in Scripture had difficulties with prayer. David cried out to God many times, pleading for Him to listen, to hear, and for David to see evidence of God’s goodness and faithfulness in His life. The prophet Habakkuk cried out to God in frustration: ““How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?”
Even the disciples, who walked and talked with Jesus Himself, and observed the way He related to His Father in prayer, asked Him, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded by teaching them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer, not to be used as a rote formula, but to give them principles for how to pray. We can pray to our Loving Father, knowing that He knows us, and has our best interest at heart. We should pray to glorify Him and to bring honour to Him, shifting our focus from ourselves to Him. We should pray for His Kingdom to come – in us and through us. We should ask Him to help us see and do and fight for His will to prevail, in our hearts and in our world. He also wants us to ask for the things we need and to bring to Him the things about which we are worried and anxious, trusting in His faithfulness and provision. We should pray for forgiveness and make sure that our hearts are right and our consciences are clear, that our relationships are in order and that we are developing Jesus’ character in the way we relate to others. We should ask Him to help us stay on the right path and to protect us and we should live in the light and wonder of His glory, rejoicing in the truth that His power and glory are the ultimate reality, now and forever, Amen.
Take courage and heart. Persevere in prayer, even when you feel like God is slow to answer. He is there and He is listening.