I was surprised, and encouraged, when a retired and well-respected overseer said recently, “I find prayer difficult”! Someone I look up to as having it ‘all sorted’, whom I assumed would find it easy, struggles with prayer. I valued his honesty as it helped me to realise that I’m not alone in finding prayer difficult.
How do we know encouragement and renewed strength in God if he just hands us everything on a plate when we demand it?
Prayer is an awesome privilege. It isn’t supposed to be easy or flippant, and as a ‘holy people’ we are fully equipped to pray. It is a discipline we should practise and give time to. Prayer is the means of communication and grounding for our relationship with our sovereign God.
There have been many times in my life where I really haven’t understood God’s plans or purposes. My experience of such times teaches me to rest on his promises and be persistent in prayer, even when I don’t get immediate answers.
Jesus knew we would struggle with prayer – in Luke 18:1 he tells his disciples a parable to “show them that they should always pray and not give up.” And then we are encouraged in 1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Confidently knowing that God hears us enables us to be persistent.
It’s easy to give up on prayer because we don’t seem to receive answers – or the answers we want. We think God doesn’t hear. We take things into our own hands because we don’t have the patience to wait on the Lord for his timing.
How do we know encouragement and renewed strength in God if he just hands us everything on a plate when we demand it? As we pray, we wait; as we wait, we trust; as we trust, we grow; and as we grow in a deeper relationship with God we realise his sovereignty and faithfulness in all things.
Hayley Woods, The Church of God in Manchester