Over the past few weeks, a recurring theme has come up in my life: the need for prayer, both bolstering my personal prayers and the necessity of praying with others. It’s no secret that prayer is, at times, a struggle. Building and rebuilding healthy rhythms takes time, and my natural (human) impatience makes waiting for answers difficult. Sometimes it seems easier to run under my own power than to do the thing I’m supposed to do: pray. So what do I do when I feel stuck or lack motivation? Here are three brief suggestions:
- Repent of my prayerlessness. Not to put too fine a point on it, but prayerlessness is a sin. We are commanded to pray always. Prayer isn’t simply about getting something from God, but about developing intimacy. So prayer isn’t something I can leave by the wayside, as though ignoring speaking with God were an option. In the same way that if I constantly ignored my wife our relationship would suffer, so too prayerlessness comes at my own peril. So I need to continually repent (and often repent of my own repentance, to borrow a line of a Puritan prayer).
- Recognize how God has always been at work answering my prayers. Sometimes our problem with prayerlessness comes from a failure to see how God has been at work throughout our entire lives. We have many needs, and some of them we’ve even prayed about. And God unfailingly supplies what we need for the circumstances we find ourselves in (even if we don’t always like what that entails). As Spurgeon wrote, “For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them.” So take a moment and consider how God has been at work. How you’ve seen him, like the good Father he is, giving you all you need. Recognizing God’s answers in the past fuels our commitment to prayer.
- Respond to every prompt to pray. We get these every day. A moment where we might feel a prompting to pray. Lean into that. Respond to it and pray. It doesn’t have to be anything profound, after all. It just needs to be. Respond… and then respond again. Then respond again. And again. And again…