"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It is hard to pray

Why does it seem that this thing... prayer... which I so truly love and is so fulfilling is so hard to do! I believe with all that I am that prayer is important. I know that God uses our prayers, hears our prayers and answers prayers all the time. I know this. I watch Him at work and I am reminded time and time again how important it is to pray. And, yet, when I sit to pray... it can be so hard.

Paul refers to "laboring" in prayer and I find this to be the case much of the time. Not that it doesn't bring me much joy. It does. And, yet, it is work. It is labor. I must choose to go and I must choose to pray. And, re-choose the next hour or the next day.

I was explaining our job yesterday to a woman I met here. "I get to pray", I explained with genuine excitement. "What an amazing job!", I exclaimed when sharing with her about my work here. And yet, when I sit to pray I struggle...

Is the struggle a lack of faith? Yes. Is the struggle distraction? Yes. or tiredness? Yes. Is the struggle one with a "task driven" self longing to get up and "do"? Yes. Is the struggle with 'what' to pray? Yes. All these and more.

And so I struggled today in prayer. I labored through the day. ...A look at my watch. A sound that pulls my attention. A thought about schedule or relationships. Are these from God? Are these distractions of my heart? There were times of sincere worship and intercession. There were times of distraction and folly. I felt God's presence at times and at other times not. I knew at times how to pray and at other times I didn't.

At the end of my day of prayer I read something that directed my heart a bit and makes me think: "To know God we must think of him, not simply about him. We must learn to become attentive to his presence with us. We must first spend time gazing on him, being still before him and focused on him. ...movement from prayer of the head to prayer of the heart. Prayer of the heart does not replace head or worded prayers, but it will deepen them" (David Benner).

So, I am going to finish up this prayer day with a bit more gazing... a bit more looking at him and just see if God might do a mighty work to turn my head prayers into heart ones. ...for it is hard to pray.

So far to go, Lord, so far to go. Would you use me anyway? For your glory, Jesus. For I know you use broken clay pots so that Your glory shines through more brightly. Teach me to pray, Lord, I ask.
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