As I meet people in all kinds of situations, services, meetings, Bible studies and other groups as well as individually, I find that if the conversation gets round to prayer a lot of people say they find prayer difficult or lack confidence. We all know that it is supposed to be important and then we feel a bit guilty that we don’t pray more often or are “not very good at it”. I’ll let you into a secret (probably not a very well kept one) – ministers find prayer difficult sometimes too!
The good news is that God knows this and even Paul the apostle. Paul tells us ‘the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.’ Romans 8:26
So why pray?! There are lots of reasons why it is good to pray, but I’m going to look briefly at just two: “relationship” and “releasing”.
It seems to me every relationship is based on something shared and therefore requires some kind of communication to actually be a relationship. Our relationship with God is most important of all and it is just the same. We need to communicate with God, talking with Him and listening too so that our relationship with Jesus grows.
God has shared the lead in running His world with us (Genesis 1:28) and often He is waiting for us to release Him, or we could say “invite” Him, to come into a situation and help. Because we are designed to live by faith and love, in God’s likeness, he doesn’t force himself on us but waits for us to be open and let Him in. Even then of course He will do what is best and what is His will, not necessarily what we’re asking for or telling Him what we think would be best. In Ephesians 3:20, Paul encourages us that God is ‘able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine’. We can trust God to do at least the good we’re thinking, and usually a whole lot more! God changes situations and he changes us through our praying.
The other thing I would like to touch on briefly is to encourage you to find ways that work for you. Maybe you already do this, but I find it really helpful to pray out loud (quietly usually and a good reason to be on your own!). It helps me to concentrate and stay focussed. It’s also good practice for later when you’re at prayer with others and find you want to share a few words.
A while back I came across the idea of a wheel of prayer for a church prayer chain. The idea was to have 24 hours of continuous prayer, covered an hour at a time by different people. You spend just 5 minutes on each of the topics. Starting with worship, thanks… it is amazing how quickly an hour goes by even when you’re covering the 3am slot!
Maybe you could start with even just 1 or 2 minutes on each, and you could make the segments things that suit what you want to pray over. We all need the “worship”, “thanks” and “listen”, and it is important to pray for your church and its leaders, I wonder what your other segments might be?
I hope these encouragements are of help to you. Prayer is like breathing to our soul, it is vital. Don’t be discouraged with prayer; remember to ask God for the help of his Spirit with your prayers and find a way that works for you to grow your relationship with Jesus.
With my prayers for your blessing in Christ,
Revd Phil Snelson