This past week, during our small group meeting on zoom, we had quite a few prayer requests that seemed at least difficult, if not impossible. Yes, we had to go back to meeting on zoom because our area has had a spike in covid cases. We had one prayer request especially, that seemed pretty hopeless. But by the end of the week, all of our prayer requests had been answered positively (we meet on Wednesdays.)
After such a dramatic response from GOD to those requests, some of which had been prayed for before but had moved to being more drastic in terms of need, I wondered why I am so reluctant to pray. Why do I drag my feet when it comes to taking needs to GOD in prayer…especially when they are my needs or those of my family? When I am in a group, it is so easy for me to see the needs of someone else and remind her of how much GOD cares for her and wants to help her. But do I remember that for myself? Often I don’t.
Pride plays a huge role in my unwillingness to take my needs to GOD.
I so often feel that I need to help Him out order something along the way to fix the problem. But that is so far from the truth! Often, the ways he chooses to answer my prayers is so different from the ways i expect, that my “help” doesn’t do much good because it moves in quite a different direction than He is moving.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Unbelief can also play a role.
I don’t truly think GOD can resolve a given problem when actually He is the only One who can! Yes, intellectually, I know He is an infinite GOD, but I don’t put the pieces together when it comes to real life.
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt,
you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain,
‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Matthew 21:21-22 ESV
Allowing myself to be distracted by lesser things.
How often do I do something of much less importance, rather than making time for the most important things. I get busy, stressed, and overwhelmed. Instead of taking my needs to GOD in prayer, I try to escape.into TV, reading, and all manner of distractions. How about you? It’s easy to forget the important things.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door
and pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 ESV
And after he had dismissed the crowds,
he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone,
Matthew 14:23 ESV
I’m not convinced of the seriousness of sin and my inability to be victorious over it on my own.
How often do I pray regarding chronic temptation and sin? Does it ever cause me distress? Am I serious enough about it to actually change habits and attitudes? And more than that, do I pray about this area of my life and that of those I love? My spouse and my children and grandchildren for example?
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.
And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:40-41 ESV
I underestimate the importance of forgiving my brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is easy to get in the habit of not paying attention to place where I don’t forgive others. It affects my prayer life and my whole life in general in a negative way. Holding resentments in my heart keeps me from living out a life of love to Christians and non-Christians alike!
Jesus came to bring reconciliation to our world. He brought reconciliation between us and GOD and between one another. Granted, forgiveness is rarely easy. By definition, forgiveness means we have been sinned against, at least from our perspective. We have been hurt. Often, when we can talk honestly to the other person, we find that we each came from different perspectives and it wasn’t intentional. But there are plenty of times it IS intentional. The other person did mean to hurt us. Sometimes, they have no desire to apologize either. They aren’t sorry to have hurt us.
Even then, we need to forgive from our side. Why? Because we are a child of GOD. That’s what being a child of GOD does. But it doesn’t come easy. Only the Spirit of GOD can enable us to forgive. In the end, it is for our benefit. A book that helped me a lot in this regard is by Lewis B. Smedes. It is titled Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve. I also have found help from Peacemaker ministries especially here. Between the two, I think you will find some great help. Being told to forgive and learning how to forgive are two different things. It is a process. It doesn’t happen in an instant. You can make a decision to forgive. But the ability to actually forgive and forget the pain and hurt…that takes awhile.
Honestly, I have one incident of pain and hurt from my past that only recently stopped causing me to have the hair on the back of my neck stand up when it came to mind! It happened about 30 years ago. I still remember the historical aspect of the event(s) but the pain is mostly gone now. That is all GOD! Truly. The decision to forgive was made long ago. But the pain and hurt was part of GOD’s healing over time. My part was to not revisit the incident(s) repeatedly and tell myself how right I was and how wrong this person was. I hope that is a helpful, though extreme illustration. Most acts of forgiveness aren’t like that.
And whenever you stand praying,
if you have anything against anyone,
so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Matthew 11:25 ESV
This merely scratches the surface on this topic. What other reasons do you have for not praying? Put in the comments. Meanwhile, ask GOD to help you improve in trusting Him in an area of your prayer life over the next month. That is something we have been encouraged to work on in our church during this month. Of course, it is not meant to be something temporary. It is something to grow in and get a taste of so we can continue to grow in this area in our relationship with GOD.
The wonderful truth is that we can be forgiven!
You and I don’t need to wallow in guilt when we look at our failures in this area of prayer. It is one place where we can go to GOD and receive forgiveness without having to do penance. He already paid for our sin on the cross. We need to come to Him to repent of our failure.and ask Him to work out the needed change in our lives. He will gladly help us. and create a new desire in us. This is not meant to be a guilt trip at all. It is meant to be an opportunity for you to turn to Christ as I need to as well, for the change He needs to make in me.