How to Pray #3 – Difficulties with Prayer:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.” (Revelation 3:20).
O. Hallesby, in his world famous classic book Prayer says, “I doubt that I know of a passage in the whole Bible which throws greater light on prayer than this one does. It is…the key which opens the door into the blessed realm of prayer. To pray is to let Jesus come into our hearts.”
What a wonderful, revolutionary way of looking at prayer! Jesus is the relentless lover who is pursuing us, ever knocking at the door of our hearts and desiring to be let in. He is ever calling us to come and sit at His feet. If we hear His voice and open the door, He will come in, and share a meal with us as friends. In the Bible times, meal sharing was symbolic of sharing close and intimate fellowship with someone. That’s what Jesus desires to do with every one of us. What an amazing thought! Yet, even though these things are true, why do so many of us have a hard time praying?
When I first became a Christian, prayer came easy to me. I prayed often, and believed God to answer my prayers. Spending time with Jesus was a joy, a delight, a special time that I looked forward to. Yet, as I grew in the Christian life, I found that prayer became at times a burden and a duty that I had to do. Can you relate to that? Sometimes I’ve been discouraged by reading the lives of men of prayer who constantly burned brightly in their passion for God, leaving me wondering what I was doing wrong. There have been many seasons in my life when I have neglected prayer, and the results have been disastrous. Whenever I have abandoned prayer, the other spiritual disciplines (reading my Bible, worshipping, and engaging in Christian service), soon followed. So what do we do when we find ourselves in that place?
The first thing is to be honest and admit our weakness in prayer, and not try to defend our sin of prayerlessness. We’re all busy, but everyone has the same 24 hours in a day as the next person. If we’re not praying, it’s not because we don’t have enough time; it’s because prayer is not a priority to us. Let’s be real, and admit when there is a problem, for only then can God bring healing and change. Secondly, let’s humble ourselves, and go to God, and say, “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief. I am having difficulties in prayer.”
Romans 8:26 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” When you don’t know how to pray, call upon the Spirit of prayer, and say, “Lord, help me to pray. Teach me to pray.”
Allow me to close today with a wonderful section from Hallesby’s book on prayer, that I pray will be an encouragement to you. “To pray is to open the door unto Jesus and admit Him into your distress. Your helplessness is the very thing which opens the door unto Him, and gives Him access to all your needs. “But why doesn’t He answer me?” you ask perplexed. He has answered your prayer. He has entered into your life, through the door which you in your helplessness have opened for Him. He is already dwelling in your heart. He is doing the good work within you. As yet you have not really understood His answer. But in this respect you are like all the rest of us who pray. We pray, and our prayers are answered, but we do not see the answer immediately, often not until a long time afterward.”
Two final words I want to give you, to help you in this exciting adventure of prayer: Practice and perseverance. To learn how to pray, you must pray. Just do it. And, once you’ve begun, never, ever, ever give up.
Pastor Chris Jordan