Why is Prayer So Difficult?
I grew up in church, but I never learned how to pray. At that church, prayer was a ritual of memorized chants and 90-second moments of silence to throw in your own two cents. I never really gave much thought to what I was saying. Because when you memorize, you don’t have to think. You just do what you already know to do. No thought needed.
Suffice it to say there was no learning how to pray. Not in the way that I think of prayer now. It wasn’t a conversation with God. It was lip service to God. It wasn’t necessarily heartfelt. Honestly, it was mind-numbing. Literally, my mind would go blank because the memory muscles would kick in. I wasn’t praying to God.
I was an autopilot with God.
I never understood the power of prayer until I made a Spirit-led transition to seek God beyond what religion offered. Beyond the chanting and the memorizing and the two cents. I desired to speak to Him directly, but never knew how.
I remember attending a women’s small group one night, where I had this eerie feeling that someone was going to ask me to pray. And I had never prayed before out loud. So I was horrified when this new group of women that I’ve known for two seconds asked me to pray. Out loud. I had been found out.
I wasn’t a real Christian because I didn’t know how to pray.
At least that’s how I felt. I thought…How can I do something that I don’t know how to do? How can I be expected to pray in public when I barely pray in private? How am I supposed to come up with this sophisticated, eloquent prayer right on the spot when I haven’t practiced memorizing typical prayer talk?
Prayer is difficult when you don’t know how to pray.
Devote yourselves to prayer
Colossians 4:2a CSB
Paul commends the Church to devote time to prayer, not just here in Colossians, but throughout the Epistles.
Jesus prayed often throughout the books of the Gospel, whether to heal sick or to avoid the cup.
David’s Psalms aren’t just songs of worship. They are prayers to his Heavenly Father.
What is it that they understood that I’m missing? Why were they so into prayer? And why is it so difficult for me to pray?
Because it’s full of power.
The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
James 5:16b CSB
I have mixed feelings about power.
Power can be used to oppress or uplift. Power can be used to devour or heal. Power can be dangerous or divine.
Prayer is difficult because it holds power.
And honestly, I’m afraid of what that power has the potential to do.
I’ve never thought of myself as a powerful person, so it’s no wonder why I’ve never considered becoming a prayer warrior. With prayer, movement happens. Change is inevitable. Prayer works because it shifts the scale of power by the favor and will of God. Prayer means change, and change can be scary.
I wish I could say that my prayer life is amazing. It’s not. It’s still a work in progress. It will be until the day of Christ. I’ve settled into that revelation, but that doesn’t excuse me from settling into a lackluster life of mediocre prayer. I desire to have deeper dialogue with God. But it all starts with learning how to pray and developing a different mindset towards prayer.
What struggles do you have in your prayer life? What have you noticed holds you back from a life devoted to prayer? Share your revelations below.
In this month’s issue, let’s strengthen our relationship with God by focusing on our petitions, pleas, and praise through the series, How to Get Your Prayer Life.