Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Struggling with Prayer?

I confess - my biggest spiritual struggle is prayer. Worship is a joy, and Bible study is a passion, but prayer is the spiritual discipline that feels most like, well, a discipline. That's why I constantly remind myself of truths that I have learned over the years.

Some of my earliest insights came from a book that highlights some of the core principles I have tried to adopt over the years. I've quote from it several times here: Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something by Ronald Dunn. Dunn's Christ-centered, practical approach to prayer has helped me over many humps, and his illustrations are unforgettable.

One key truth that he drives home is that prayer is not for the "spiritual", but for people "just like us." He elaborates:

Prayer is not untouchable. God did not mean for us to hold it in that kind of awe. Prayer was God's idea. He created it for people who are weakned by sin, fickle in their commitment, at times overwhelmed by doubt, often discouraged and bewildered, and nearly always fretting about life.

Highlighting the fact that every advance of the early church was bathed in prayer, Dunn then relates the story of beginning his own church's prayer ministry. After 14 weeks of preaching on intercessory prayer, some of the church's 200 eager intercessors entered their prayer chapel to receive the first call: a mother whose two-year-old son was in the hospital in convulsions from drinking engine cleaner. Doctors gave the family no hope for his survival. Dunn recounts the story honestly:

Confession time. I hate to admit it, but among my immediate thoughts was this sorry one: I'm going to give this request to our intercessors and they're going to pray for this child's recovery, really believing he's going to be all right, and he'll die (that's what the doctor said and he ought to know), and then they'll be discouraged.

You can imagine the result: the intercessors prayed through the night, God worked a miracle, the doctor was amazed. Dunn concludes:

And so it was. I had thought it best to launch our intercessory ministry with the possible and work up to the impossible. But God strated with the impossible and demonstrated from the very beginning the awesome power of prayer. Prayer is the secret of Jesus. He has passed it on to us, but not all Christians receive it. The secret of greater works is received only by those who say, "I believe God will do His greatest works through my prayers."

That is the Jesus Secret - for people just like us.

Are you struggling with your prayer life? Remember that prayer is God's idea - and prayer is the greater work of the kingdom. Number 1 on my "prayer theology" list is this reminder: "Prayer reminds me that it's not up to me to solve the problems around me." It's not up to you either. So we pray, and God works, and is glorified.

See you at the throne!


Bryan said...

I read your post and kept thinking "that's me!" - yes, worship is joyful, studying God's Word is a hunger, a thirst, and a passion, but prayer is the spiritual discipline I struggle with most.
- thanks for your encouraging post!

Rosa said...

Thanks for responding Bryan! I'm glad God encouraged you. Keep pressing on to learn about prayer!