I find praying difficult. Do you? Some “praying” is no more than a kind of wishful thinking. I am not talking about that. Real praying is when we speak to God, knowing that he hears us and takes what we say seriously. Is that possible? How is it possible?
Why is praying difficult for many people? It is not as though it is a difficult thing to do. A child can pray. Perhaps that is part of it. Do you have to be an adult to see the problems with praying?
On the one hand, those who have doubts about God (which is what adults tend to do) will obviously have doubts about praying. Our difficulties in praying can be an expression of our uncertainty, our weak faith, our unbelief.
On the other hand, even those who are clear about the God who really is there, confident in their faith in him, may have doubts about whether Almighty God really needs to hear from little old me? Can’t we trust God to be good enough, wise enough and powerful enough to rule the world, including my little part of the world, without interference from my prayers? We can find ourselves believing in God (or at least thinking we do), but finding it hard to believe in praying.
This is a serious matter. For faith in God that does not lead us to pray, is not really faith in God at all. That may be a harsh way to put it, but we need to understand that faith in God is not simply our own thoughts about God. That’s make-believe religion, and it is worse than useless. Faith in God is what God himself has made possible. It is what Jesus Christ has opened up for us. And that faith will pray.
But just as there can be “faith” that is not really faith at all (see James 2:14, 19), there can be praying that is not really praying. It is no wonder that we have difficulties with praying because true prayer is utterly remarkable. True praying involves words uttered by a mere human being and those words actually being heard—listened to—by Almighty God. Just as the possibility of authentic faith depends on what God has done, so the possibility of genuine praying is a gracious gift from God made possible by Jesus Christ. Let’s do it!
Your brother in the Lord Jesus Christ
John Woodhouse (Acting Senior Minister)