If you are like me, then you are more familiar than you want to be with the weakness of prayer and the failure of prayer, rather than the success of prayer. I am not even sure we know how to define the success of prayer. Perhaps that is another blog for another time.
Do you suffer from Prayer Weakness? Here are some signs and symptoms of this common disease.
- You don’t pray as often as you think you should.
- You don’t pray like he/she does (who seems to always be praying…)
- You realize you lack appropriate faith when you pray.
- You have known your share of unanswered prayers which now leads you to ignore the urgency of prayer.
- You think you don’t pray eloquently enough or as theologically informed as other people.
- You can’t seem to find the time to pray in the midst of a busy life.
- Prayer, you figure, can wait. Right now, you have more important things that are calling for your attention.
- You start off strong each New Year and quickly fizzle off and now you wonder, why do I bother?
- Simply put, you feel like a failure when it comes to prayer.
If you fall into any of the above, you are in good company! I do not write this as an expert on prayer! Rather, I am very aware of my prayer weakness.
I am personally worn out by the articles that speak of the failure of Christians praying. Those articles always throw in an extra jab at prayerless pastors. I am sure we all recognize our weakness when it comes to prayer. So, what is the believer who realizes he or she has this disease to do?
Well, I begin with what NOT to do. When we realize that our prayer life is not what it ought to be, we often try to ought ourselves to pray. You have heard the ought to pray sermons. Sadly, I have preached them. The problem is that we already know we ought to pray more. And yet, this is yet to move us to consistently pray. Instead, we usually pull ourselves up for a few days and then the busyness of life kicks in and before we know it, we are right back where we began with that feeling that we ought to pray.
Ought to pray has a cousin. His name is guilt. When ought to pray, fails to move us, guilt stands ready to overwhelm our soul. Have you found that guilt is a terrible prayer motivator? Sadly, too often, we are persuaded to pray by guilt rather than by faith.
All of this leads us to a place of prayer weakness. Is that where you find yourself today? I hope so! Because it is from a posture of weakness that prayer is awakened in our soul.
How quickly we forget that prayer is not about us, but about Him. It has never been about our righteousness, but His. Likewise, it has never been about our strength, it is about His! Prayer weakness realizes that it is to God’s glory that we pray. Therefore, our motivation does not suddenly appear from recognizing we “ought” to pray, but from understanding WHO God is and WHAT He has done.
A formula for Prayer Weakness:
Who God is + What God has done = Fresh Faith to pray
Rather than mulling over who we are not and what we are not accomplishing for Him, perhaps we should turn and consider who HE is and what HE has already accomplished on our behalf. Frankly, I know what I ought to be doing and this has been a failing motivator. However, when I consider who God is (His faithfulness, wisdom, power, creation glory, immeasurable splendor, goodness, kindness, mercy, unfailing love, eternity, sovereignty, holiness, justice, immutability….) and then I consider WHAT He has done for me (redemption, reconciliation, regenerating new life, justification, sanctification, He has not treated me as my sins deserve!….) now I have the proper motivation and posture to pray!
It’s a new year! Let’s embrace the weakness of prayer and find His strength in our weakness.
If your church has a corporate prayer gathering, I urge you to make that a priority this year, not because you ought to but because of WHO He is and WHAT He has done!