When Praying Is Hard

One quiet, early morning, I was watching the sun rise over the hills and through the trees. Everything around me was glistening as the rays of light danced upon the morning sky. I had taken this time to pray, though my heart was heavy with a burden for my friend.

She had just received some devastating news and was struggling to hold onto hope. It seemed like her world was falling apart, so I asked the Lord, “How do I pray for her, I don’t even know where to start?”

Have you ever felt like that before?

In this busy world of ours, prayer often feels like a daunting challenge, especially in difficult seasons.

As I sat with the Lord, I remembered that Jesus’ disciples also had questions about prayer.
It was early on in their journey together that, after witnessing Jesus spend time in prayer, they said, “Lord, teach us to pray (Lk 11:1 HCSB).”
These were Jewish men. They were taught the Jewish Scriptures from an incredibly young age and would have known how to pray them.
So why did they ask Jesus to teach them to pray?

Perhaps they saw that Jesus was more concerned with developing an intimate connection with God than big lengthy prayers.

As I was pondering this, I turned to the answer Jesus gave His disciples, as recorded in Matthew 6: 9-13 (HCSB),“Therefore, you should pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, Your name be honoured as holy. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

When we don’t know what to pray, the prayer guide Jesus gave His disciples is perfect for us today.

Let’s take a closer look at it together:

Our Father in heaven,  
Jesus wants us to make our prayers personal. We can be honest with God because He cares for us (1 Pt 5:7). He is not far off or disconnected from our lives. Whatever is on our heart today, God wants to hear about it.  

Your name be honoured as holy.  
Jesus also wants us to remember that praise and thanksgiving are a necessary part of our prayers (Phil 4:6). He calls us to acknowledge that the name of God is holy and guiding us to worship God within our prayers.  

Your Kingdom come,  
God’s ways are not the ways of this world (Is 55:8). His Kingdom is based on grace and truth, forgiveness and justice. Jesus is guiding us to seek God for the qualities of His Kingdom and His Spirit to be evident in our lives (Gal 5:22-23).
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  
This is a call to surrender. In our prayer time, Jesus encourages us to lay down our desires, our need for control and let God have His way in our lives (Heb 13:20-21). I believe that God honors vulnerability and graciously responds to honest prayers.  

Give us today our daily bread,  
God promises to supply all our needs (Phil 4:19). When we ask Him to provide for us, we open our eyes to see the many ways He can move in our lives. Jesus encourages us to connect with God every day. We also must remember that Jesus is the bread of life (Jn 6:35). When we ask for more of Jesus in our daily lives, we ask for more than our physical needs, but spiritual ones also.  

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  
Forgiveness is foundational in the Kingdom of God; it is also the key to freedom in our own lives. God forgives us and commands us to forgive others (Eph 4:32). To keep our hearts right before God, forgiveness is an essential part of our daily prayer time.  

And do not bring us into temptation but deliver us from evil.   God will not tempt us (Jam 1:13). However, Jesus knows that evil and temptation are a part of this broken world. Therefore, He encourages us to ask for His protection when we face situations we cannot handle independently.

This really is the best prayer guide ever! 

This guide enabled me to pray for my friend that morning.

I began by praying for God’s will to be done in her situation. Then I prayed for freedom from any unforgiveness in her life. I finished my prayer time by asking that God would meet all her needs. Even though I didn’t know what they were, I knew He did.

Anytime I don’t know how to pray for myself or my loved ones, I always come back to the prayer guide Jesus gave us in Matthew 6.

Following Christ’s example helps me keep in step with God’s Spirit and in tune with His voice.   

Prayer is not about checking off a box on the good Christian’s to-do list. It’s not about how many words you use or how many times a day you pray.

Prayer is about prioritizing an intimate connection with God, just as Jesus did.

I hope you set aside some time today to connect with God through prayer.

Following Christ’s example will enable you to hear the heart of God for yourself, your family and for those whom He has placed on the journey with you. “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 HCSB  

Laura Jane Anslow

First Published on Living By Design’s Saturday SOULfood.

4 thoughts on “When Praying Is Hard

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