I was so glad she said it. The words of this mature Christian brought hope into my struggle:
Whether we admit it or not, we all struggle with prayer.
I know I do, but I didn’t think she did. I didn’t expect her to think most people struggled with it too. Just knowing I wasn’t the only one motivated me to overcome — to become and encourage others to be the people of prayer God intends for us to be.
Let me clarify the struggle: I love spending time with God. I talk to Him a lot and realize that is prayer. I see my need for Him and I am increasingly depending on and trusting Him. That too is a powerful component of prayer. Where I struggle most is in the asking. In some twisted thinking, I struggle because I’ve thought: “God, You know what we need and when we need it, and I believe You for it.” On one hand, I know this pleases God. But there’s something else I know: God has ordained that we ask. While there’s a balance between asking and believing, God has said we are to we come to Him with specific requests for our needs and the need of others.
God’s heart is expressed so clearly in Isaiah 59:15b-16a:
“The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene.”
To intervene is to intercede, to act on behalf of another’s interests. Throughout Scripture God repeats a central message: If My people will pray, then I will act. Yet I’ve been frustrated with the concept of continually asking — of, as Scripture says,
“Asking and keep on asking, seeking and keep on seeking, knocking and keep on knocking” (Luke 11:9).
God has decreed that requests and petitions be made to Him in prayer. My struggling with His ordained way is as crazy as my trying to change the 24 hour day into a 30 hour day. Prayer is what God says it is. We are to do what He says we’re to do. And if you’re relating to my struggle, let’s quit fighting against God’s way just because we want it another way.
To this end, God has been using one of Jesus’ parables to teach me about prayer. After teaching His disciples what to pray for, Jesus painted a powerful picture to illustrate what prayer is and how it should be done. He invited His disciples to imagine a potential scenario:
A friend of yours arrives unexpectedly, late one the evening. They need a place to stay and something to eat. You welcome them in, but have nothing to feed them. You know of only one possible solution: go to another friend and see if he’ll share some of this food with you (from Luke 11:5-6).
We’re presented with this opportunity every day. The needs of the people around us are great. And even when we feel like our “pantry” is full, the truth is, people don’t need what we can offer them. They need what only God can provide. Ultimately, they need Jesus:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
People need Jesus, and they need the provision God has given us in Jesus. Compared to that, we’ve got nothin’. The man in the parable knew that, and he loved his friend enough to go and get what his friend needed. That friend needed bread; we can give our friends the Bread of Life.
What if we view prayer as our simply coming to Jesus to get the needed “food” for the people who come our way? I’ve been visualizing this in my prayer time and it’s helping. In fact, I’m starting to see prayer for the great privilege it is and the power it holds.
Through prayer God will bring His supply from heaven to earth for them. Practice Way #48 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:
Join God in His work by interceding for people.