Do You Struggle With Prayer?

The Bible tells us we are to pray without ceasing, pray for those in authority, pray for all Christians worldwide, pray for our enemies, etc., etc. but how many do that? Do you struggle with prayer?  I do and I have been a Christian and an ordained minister for 43 years.

Max Lucado has come out with a new book and a video about what he calls the secret to prayer. I watched the video and I would disagree with him - that prayer is not as simple as he purports and certainly not a "pocket" prayer you can utter by rote daily. As Watchman Nee says in his books about prayer, "Prayer is work" the same as the ministry of the Word.

Bible study has never been a problem for me for I enjoy reading and studying the Word, but prayer is a different matter. Even when I was an active pastor, I found it difficult to pray due to the demands of the ministry. It seemed like I had a thousand things to do every day and somehow prayer just did not fit my busy schedule. Of course that is foolish thinking for nothing is more important than prayer, especially to a minister of God.

Then why is prayer so hard to do and I am not saying it is for everyone for I know a man of God who is highly anointed of God and his prayers bring heaven to earth. First, because he pays the price to be right with God so that nothing interferes with his prayer (the Lord told us in Isaiah 59:1-2 that our sins prevent Him from hearing our prayers). Then he sets aside a portion of his morning for prayer (gets up at 5:30 every morning to pray before his busy work day begins). In other words, he is committed to prayer and will let nothing get in his way for the morning quiet time. I have personally witnessed him cast demons out of the most difficult cases when the psychologists could not help their patients. Jesus said the casting out of demons comes by way of fervent prayer and fasting, that is, by prayer warriors and he is certainly one (See Mark 9:28).

I have prayed with him on several occasions and one thing I observed about him and his prayers - he is not hung up about methodology - the right way or wrong way - he prays like he is having a genuine conversation with the Lord and in fact he is. He enjoys prayer for He is confident in the one to whom he is praying as well as that his prayers are being heard and answered. There is a certain light spirit about his praying and I guess the proper word is "freedom". He prays with the utmost freedom and I have to admit I had rather hear him pray than my own prayer.  I guarantee you the demons are afraid of this man for he sends them to the pit by permission of the Lord. How many demons are afraid of you? How many demons are afraid of me?  I have to say, Woe is me for my prayer is lacking in consistency and power.

It is not that I do not want to pray - the want to is there, but the doing of it is my biggest problem. When you think about prayer and the need to get on your knees and pray, do you often feel a coldness or hindrance or something oppressing your spirit and mind and before you know it, you have gone on to do other things?  Then you look back and feel guilty for not praying.  Well, the difficulty you encounter is not a coincidence. No, it is Satan and demonic forces opposing your will to pray. They do not mind if you study the Word of God until you are blue in the face, but they don't want you to pray and especially become a prayer warrior (a pray warrior is someone who knows how to wage spiritual warfare praying against the forces of darkness in the heavenly realms).

The will is perhaps the key ingredient in prayer. If Satan can capture your will and bring it in subjection to him, he can render your prayer life ineffective and even non-existent. The longer you put off praying the more control he acquires until you reach a point when the will to pray is gone. When this happens your will is paralyzed and unable to respond:

2 Timothy 2;25-26 NKJV

25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Satan's will is that no Christian pray and certainly not become a prayer warrior so he gives you cold feet so to speak when it comes to praying. Capturing the will of a believer is one of the key attacks of Satan against believers in Christ Jesus.  Watchman Nee writes in one of his many books, that if a minister of God fails in prayer, he fails in everything. The same can be true of every Christian.  Prayer is work and not for the lazy and faint-hearted.  Getting up early in the morning to pray takes commitment and a strong resolve (will). You have to work at it and let me tell you a secret, it is not easy and will never be easy. Many times you will not feel like praying due to physical illness or weariness (didn't get enough sleep or under a lot of stress), but that is when we should pray for prayer lifts the burden of the spirit and has a calming and healing effect on the mind and physical body. I can attest of the many times I have not felt like praying and yet when I exercised my will to fight the opposition to pray, afterward my spirit was lighter and the burdens released knowing that I had prayed in the will of God and that He had answered by prayer. By the way when is prayer answered - after you pray or before? Jesus told us the answer:

Mark 11:24 NKJV

24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

We are to believe we have the answer to our prayers WHEN we pray not afterward. In fact, that is the key to ANSWERED prayer. God is not going to answer a single prayer if we do not believe in our OWN prayers, more importantly have absolute faith in the object of our prayers - our Lord and God. If we do not believe IN GOD, and that He hears our prayers and ANSWERS them as we pray, then we have done nothing but fill the air with empty words.

The less we pray the weaker our will to resist the devil becomes. Prayer actually keeps our spirit and our will strong. Neglecting prayer will cause our spirits to shrivel-up and become useless to God.  The same is true of our will (we are all born with a free will and it is up to us what condition it is in; the Calvinists teach man does not have free will, but he does, otherwise, God could send us all to hell and He would have the right to do so, but if He did that it would make the cross of our Lord Jesus non-efficacious and a lie; the cross of itself proves man has free will to accept God's forgiveness or reject it; if man has no free will, then there would be no reason for the cross. Why would Jesus die for the sins of the whole human race if God only chooses some to salvation and the rest can go to hell? Well, He doesn't. The cross was necessary for all mankind are sinners, but in the cross we find forgiveness and acceptance by God if we are WILLING to accept his salvation - clear and simple).

Our free will is very important to God and also to Satan. Actually our will is the highest faculty of our soul (the soul is the mind, emotions and will) for the will is most involved in salvation and in obeying God. It is also very important in prayer.  Prayer starts with the will to pray. We need to pray and we want to pray, but do we will to pray and do so consistently?  Again, if our will is weak because our spirit is weak, and/or the devil has captured our will in order to make us obey him, then we cannot pray as we should, and in fact, cannot pray at all. If you are one reading this and you are struggling with prayer to the point your either find it difficult to pray or you cannot pray, then you need to understand one of two things. Either you are not saved or neglect of prayer and having a clear conscience, has rendered your will and spirit unable to respond to the Holy Spirit's promptings to pray. This is the time to go before the Lord and ask Him to examine your heart and reveal the true condition, even the status of your salvation. I know what some are thinking, doesn't God only hear the prayers of the saved? Well, if you are genuine in your search for the truth, the Holy Spirit will reveal the true condition of your heart for that is His business - to convict the loss of their sin condition.

If we are honest, we all struggle with prayer and it is best to admit it and bring it before the Lord. God is a big God and there is nothing He has not heard or seen man do. He is not taken by surprise by our sin no matter what it is and He is certainly not surprised that we struggle with prayer. Just go before Him and admit you don't pray like you should or perhaps you have quit praying. A good start would be, "Lord I don't know how to pray and my will is weak to pray. Teach me how to pray and Father may the Holy Spirit strengthen my will to pray at all times without ceasing". I guarantee you God will not fault you for praying that way. In fact, He will be delighted in your total honesty and WILL ANSWER YOUR PRAYER.  If it is a matter of salvation, He will also  reveal that too.

We serve and worship an awesome God rich in love, mercy and grace, slow to anger and willing to forgive. He wants to have a daily conversation with us, but the onus is on us to engage Him.

May the Lord give us all a heart and mind to be prayer warriors.