What Do We Do When Prayer Is Hard?

March 9, 2022

On the front of my prayer book are these words, “We pray because prayer opens up the floodgates of God’s infinite grace and power to flow toward the person in need. God can act without prayer, but God chooses to operate within the boundaries of human will and invitation. God allows us to participate in His work on earth with each prayer.”

Prayer is truly a mysterious and powerful part of our Christian faith. Though no explanation of prayer can be fully complete, I have always found the above words to be very helpful for me. When I am having trouble keeping up with my prayer life they remind me that God wants to include me intimately in His great work around me, and that my actions and prayers matter.

Have you ever been through a time when it was hard to pray? Have you ever been sick and not known what prayer to offer? Have you ever had financial turmoil and wondered if prayer could somehow help you pay the bills? Have you ever been so lonely you couldn’t imagine anyone, including God, caring about you? Or maybe you want to pray about current affairs like the war in Ukraine, and you just don’t know what to pray for.

Citychurch.ee reported a story a Ukrainian father told by his son, a soldier. The father was in a prayer with members of his church when he got word from his son to pray. They were in big trouble as Russian bombs were coming from all directions. After the call went out for prayer the son reported that the shooting soon ceased. Then something supernatural began to happen. He wrote, "Somewhere in Heaven the enemy was bombed. Flashes of some kind. The son said they thought some kind of spaceship was shooting. Something happened- lightning struck in Heaven! Where the enemy was, there was such a rage that no survivors remained.

We didn’t understand anything! We were in shock and didn’t understand what was killing them? In short, all enemies were killed with an unknown weapon!"

This was the most dramatic miracle story I’ve read about, but not the only one. Pastor’s telling stories of rockets landing and not exploding in large numbers, rockets firing, but never reaching the ground, gypsies stealing tanks, just to name a few. The skeptic will argue that there is an explanation for all of this. The believer in prayer knows these kinds of “coincidences” happen all the time in war, and everyday life.

When our lives seem to be in order it is easiest to pray, but then again it is also easiest not to pray. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we have it together, whatever “it” is for us. But we need those good times in prayer where we say the same prayers of thanksgiving. We need to glorify God so often that the glory we offer feels like a cliché as we praise God. We need the routine of prayer so that we can come to God when we are in need and better hear what God is telling us about our lives. We need regular prayer so we can work through those times when prayer is hard but the people of Ukraine, the people in our family, and the people down our street need us to invite God into their lives in a supernatural way.

Sport fans have marveled at the poise the great athletes show when the game is on the line. We cannot forget that before they got to that point, in the biggest game of their lives, there were years of practice, practice, and more practice, so when the time came to shine they were able to do so.

I think prayer is like practice time in sports. The more we pray throughout our lives, the better we will become at hearing and finding God in our lives. It isn’t that God is ever absent or quiet, but it is we who allow the circumstances of life to distance us from the presence and voice of God.

People ask, “Why pray?” Find some others to talk about this great question. How would you answer this question, “Why pray?” When was the last time you prayed and saw God answer your prayer, “Yes?” What is God doing when He answers our prayers with a “No,” or “Maybe,” or “Not Yet?” Who is the person you think of when you think about a person of prayer? I invite you to take that person out for coffee and ask them questions about their prayer life. I guarantee you that will be the best cup of coffee and conversation you have had in a long time!