Learning to Pray

Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
Last Sunday we considered the importance of prayer in the life of the church. The ministry of the church must be undergirded by prayer, for God guides us in prayer and empowers us to do His work through prayer. We know this is true, but perhaps we struggle when it comes to actually praying. If so, we are not alone!
Richard Foster writes in his book entitled Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, “We today yearn for prayer and hide from prayer. We are attracted to it and repelled by it. We believe prayer is something we should do, even something we want to do, but it seems like a chasm stands between us and actually praying. We experience the agony of prayerlessness.”
I think we can all relate to that. We want to prayer, and know we should pray, but we struggle to pray. Sometimes it’s because of busyness, or in ability to focus, or the lack of discipline, or we feel distant from God, and so it is hard to connect with God in prayer.
Another thing that can keep us from praying is the misguided attitude that prayer requires a certain level of competence, even excellence, and we are convinced that we cannot pray that way. Perhaps we’ve heard pastors pray very eloquent prayers. Maybe we remember the heartfelt prayers of our grandmother, the theologically rich prayers of a professor, or the captivating prayers of a Sunday School teacher or mentor. And we’ve wrongly concluded that if we can’t pray like they pray, then we simply don’t know how to pray properly, and so we refrain from praying.
But that is to have the wrong understanding of prayer. Prayer is simply pouring out our hearts, voicing our concerns, making our requests, expressing our gratitude, and even sharing our disappointment with our Heavenly Father, who is always there to listen and answer in accordance with His wisdom.
To quote Foster again, “Share your hurts, share your sorrows, share your joys – freely and openly. God listens in compassion and love, just like we do when our children come to us. He delights in our presence. When we do this, we will discover something of inestimable value. We will discover that by praying we learn to pray.”
Just as one learns to ski by skiing and to swim by swimming, so we learn to pray by praying. So even if we feel inadequate or uncomfortable, let’s take advantage of this great gift from our Heavenly Father. As we do, we will come to pray more naturally, we will have the joy of seeing God answer our prayers, and we will experience new depth and intimacy in our relationship with God.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Bob

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