Last week at my church, our prayer ministry hosted an early morning prayer breakfast which was open to the men of the church. I’m not exaggerating when I confess that I had a tremendous amount of expectation for the morning. I was anticipating quality fellowship around the breakfast table. And I was most excited about praying with one another as I was desperate for some prayer support during such a busy season in my life.
Photo curtsey of Creationswap.com
Honestly, I’m not sure why I was so surprised and let down. Prayer services are typically very poorly attended. After listening to the myriad of excuses why guys couldn’t make it, I think I’ve settled the feelings in my heart and come to a very simple conclusion about prayer – it’s hard work.
1. Prayer demands focus.
It’s evident when you read through the Psalms that David had an amazingly close relationship with the living God. Simply skim Psalm 63 and you’ll discover phrases like this: “…you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you…”
It seems that when you pray, it’s beneficial to your relationship with God to focus your complete attention upon Him. However, in our distraction filled ADD culture, it’s not easy to heed the challenge of Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and know that I am God.” It really is hard work to sit still, and focus every ounce of our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual faculties on God as we pray.
2. Prayer requires time.
Everyone has the luxury of the same 24 hours each day. And we each use that time according to what’s most important to us. It’s so simple to fill up our day with so much activity that prayer quickly becomes an afterthought. It really is hard work to make time every day to sit still, stop doing everything else, and give God quality time in prayer.
3. Prayer involved persistence.
Jesus tells a story in Luke 18 about a widow who felt she was not receiving fair treatment in a certain matter. So she took her problem to the proper authority. When she did not receive the favorable outcome she was looking for, she persisted to bother the man in authority until he gave in to her request. Jesus used this widow as an example for how you should pray and not give up in your praying no matter how long it takes.
Over and over again the Biblical theme of relating to God hinges upon our persistence in seeking Him. Proverbs 8:17 clearly affirms this: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” It’s easy to give up when God doesn’t quickly answer your prayer. It’s even easier to pray once about something, and never again broach that subject in prayer. It really is hard work to consistently and persistently come to God in prayer.
Real prayer really is hard work. It requires focus, time, and persistence. Because I’m prone to sin, I continue to struggle with how hard prayer really is. But my spirit longs for more conversations with God. So I’ll keep working at praying.
Are these things hard for you? What do you find the most difficult? (Share your thoughts in the comment section below.)