Why We Should Pray (When We Don't Feel Like It)
Though there’s much that can be said about prayer it would be foolish to try to be exhaustive in this space. You would get tired to reading and I tired of writing, and our time might be better spent reading whole books devoted to the subject. Yet there are some things I think would be worth turning our attention toward to consider.
Prayer is an intimate communion with God. Some have reduced prayer to suggest it’s a conversation with God. Even though I believe that’s an incomplete picture, it’s a good place to start. Prayer may be either individual or communal, taking placing privately or publicly, silently or aloud. It takes on different forms such as prayers of supplication (or petition, wherein we ask God for something for ourselves), prayers of intercession (praying for someone else), prayers of thanksgiving, and prayers of praise.
I believe it’s important for us to remember that prayer—earnest, God-seeking prayer—is something we learn. Prayer is a spiritual discipline. It doesn’t just happen. We need to learn how to do it. But rather than suggesting how to pray I would like to offer another reason, in my experience, why to pray.
Admittedly, I love the Christian cliché of waking up, pouring a cup of coffee, and spending time reading the Bible and praying in the mornings. I don’t always do it well or perfectly, but I find that it works for me. There are some mornings, however, when I have no desire to read my Bible or pray. Relationships take work, and a relationship with God is no different. Sometimes the effort on my part lacks.
Troubled one day from my lack of desire to pray, I spoke with a friend about it. He went on to tell me this: “I like to spend time with God in the mornings, too. Like you, I know that if I don’t, my day is just off and it doesn’t feel right. I’m less patient with people and more likely to speak harshly to someone because I haven’t let God repair my heart when I wake up in the morning. My heart is always in need of repair.”
With that in mind, let’s think for a moment about the way in which we care for our teeth as an illustration. Most of us (hopefully) brush our teeth when we rise in the morning because of bad breath. The bad breath is caused by a build up of bacteria on the teeth and tongue while we sleep that has not been washed away with fluids or taken into the stomach by food. And what’s quite annoying is that one’s teeth have been brushed just hours before waking. But we must continually brush our teeth to keep them healthy and rid our mouths of harmful bacteria.
Whether it’s our teeth, or another part of our bodies, what we require is maintenance to stay in good health. And if we need to maintain those parts of us that are temporal, how much more then do we need to care of the parts of us that are eternal.
It doesn’t take long for our hearts to drift away from close fellowship with God and back to depression, selfishness, gossip, resentment. So when we have no desire to pray we must. We must be disciplined and steady in prayer so that the deep love of God will, thankfully, repair and heal us, transforming us into the likeness of Jesus.
Whether we are presenting requests to God or sitting in the stillness and quiet, prayer keeps us grounded in a love that is boundless, keeps us centered when tempted to turn, keeps us reminded that we are not alone even in our feelings of desolation. Our hearts will be filled with more passion, our minds with more creativity, and our souls with more peace as we wait for spring to come again.
What’s hard for you about praying? Is it time, discipline, or something else? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.