Struggling with Prayer

by: Larry Davies | Sep 9, 2012

Prayer… What is the first word that comes to your mind when you describe prayer?

 

One word for me is… struggle!

 

Prayer does not come easily or naturally for me. I continually struggle to be disciplined and patient about my prayer life.

 

But after twenty-six years of being a minister here is what I learned about prayer: Struggling with prayer eventually bears fruit. The more you struggle, the more you grow. Not struggling with prayer bears nothing. And nothing is an awful place to be.

 

So I continue to struggle with prayer. Over the years, several experiences have shaped my attitude about prayer.

 

Shortly after announcing my intent to leave the business world to become a United Methodist Minister, I was invited to participate in a class about prayer: “Can you Spend One Hour a Day with Me?” where we were challenged as the title says, to spend one hour a day with God. One hour? Every day? Impossible!!

 

Maybe, maybe not but in the midst of my struggle, I learned to more fully appreciate how much God loves and cares for me. In the midst of struggle, I learned more about the Bible and what it means. In the midst of struggle, I began to more fully realize  the depth of my sinful life and that God continually forgives me and offers me hope. In the midst of struggle, I began to feel peace in the midst of strife.

 

  • Struggling with prayer eventually bears fruit. The more you struggle, the more you grow. 
  • Not struggling with prayer bears nothing. And nothing is an awful place to be.

 

Several years later, a group of men at the church I served decided to meet every Sunday morning to strengthen each other through prayer and encouragement. They made a covenant about many areas of their lives but one part of the Covenant was to pray their pastor, before, during and after each worship service. I did not ask for them to pray for me but they were determined to follow through because they felt this was one way they could support each other, support their church and deepen their own relationship with God.

 

They were right. As a pastor, I was humbled and empowered each and every Sunday morning from that day on. I’m convinced that these men’s decision to pray for their pastor and their church in a bold new way, played a significant part in the ministry miracles that followed.

 

Years before I arrived, a group of women at another church formed a prayer group that met each week to pray for the future of their church. Shortly after the group was formed there was an opportunity to purchase land bordering church property. This land had been made available before but turned down. Not this time. Risks were taken, land was purchased and new ministries were formed.

 

Struggling with prayer eventually bears fruit. The more you struggle, the more you grow. Not struggling with prayer bears nothing. And nothing is an awful place to be.

 

Several years ago, like many pastors, I preached on “Prayer of Jabez” a book by Bruce Wilkinson about a virtually unknown Bible character named Jabez and a prayer found in 1 Chronicles. “Oh, that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory that Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”

 

Small groups were formed throughout the church to study the prayer and more specifically, how to ask God to “enlarge our territory.” One example of God’s answer came within months when we began sharing facilities with an African American church destroyed by a tornado. The relationship forged between our two congregations, white, black, Baptist and Methodist created unique ministry experiences and resulted in one church along with the help of the community building for another church a new facility.

 

Struggling with prayer eventually bears fruit.

The more you struggle, the more you grow. 

Not struggling with prayer bears nothing.

And nothing is an awful place to be.

 

In John 15:4, Jesus tells the disciples, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”

 

For me, this is a beautiful description of prayer:

 

  • Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.
  • A branch can’t bear grapes by itself but must be joined to the vine.
  • You can’t bear fruit by yourself unless you are joined with me.

 

Struggling with prayer eventually bears fruit. The more you struggle, the more you grow. 

 

Not struggling with prayer bears nothing. And nothing is an awful place to be.


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