If we are honest, prayer doesn’t come naturally or easily. In his book, Letters to Malcom, C.S. Lewis acknowledged that prayer is “irksome.” He went on to note, “We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish.” We will binge watch a television program and stay glued to a sporting event. But we are easily distracted from prayer. This struggle is reflected in the way the Bible speaks about prayer. Paul urged the believers in Rome to “join with me in my struggle” – literally agonize with me – “by praying to God for me” (Romans 15:30). Paul commended Epaphras for “wrestling” in prayer on behalf of the church (Colossians 4:12-13). Jesus had to urge his disciples to “keep watch” with him in prayer (but they couldn’t keep their eyes open) (Matthews 26:36-46).
We are aware of this struggle in our personal prayers. But there is also a significant aversion to corporate prayer. Many believers attend worship services regularly but see no need to come when the church gathers to pray. This aversion to prayer is particularly troubling because we believe that we were created “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Why is time spent with God seen to be a duty and an obligation rather than a delight?
There are a variety of reasons for this. Unconfessed sin certainly poses an obstacle to prayer. Sometimes we are simply distracted and desensitized by the culture. Prayer, like any relationship, requires effort. Playing video games all the time dulls the mind and makes reading a good book seem like too much work. And in a similar way, prayer can seem tedious if we are used to being entertained all the time. But prayer is also difficult because of the current condition of the world. Things are not as they are supposed to be. We struggle with the flesh—a propensity toward sin and self.
In spite of these difficulties, we should commit ourselves to prayer. Most all of the things that we were created for do not come naturally. We do them because we know they are good and right and healthy—not because we feel like it. We exercise so we can live healthy. We attend grueling practices so we can compete at a high level. We play scales on the piano so we can enjoy the beauty of music. And we pray so that we can experience a vibrant relationship with our heavenly Father.
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