Without a Prayer

by Jun 14, 2006

3200-000042.jpgSermon Passage: Colossians 4:2-9
Matt Dirks

Prayer is like exercise: you know you’ll enjoy the endorphine rush, but sitting on the sofa sounds a lot better. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced some intensely meaningful, life-changing times of prayer, then woken up the next morning wanting to do anything but pray. What’s up with that?

You can try chalking it up to an over-busy schedule, or to laziness and apathy. But is it possible it also has something to do with how you’re praying, maybe even what you’re praying about?

It’s easy for me to let my prayer-life stray toward the extremes: either mechanical formality on one side, or mindless stream-of-consciousness prayer on the other. I’ve often fallen into the trap described by the demon Screwtape in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters: “He may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised… an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part.”

God created us with hearts and minds. He wants them both engaged when we talk to him! Try praying while you walk, praying through Scripture, praying with another person, anything you can do to get your juices flowing while you pray.

Then there are the things we pray about. Think about the laundry list of requests you make to God: forgiveness for your sins… help getting out of tough situations… more money, more stuff, or both. Now ask, how many of your prayers are primarily for yourself? Seventy five percent? Ninety? Maybe that’s why your prayer life seems so dry: you’re just as bored saying your endlessly self-centered prayers as God is hearing them.

Try spending a week making no requests of God. Instead simply thank him all week for his goodness, love, and power. After that, try keeping a list of things to pray for other people. Then make sure you pray through the list each day before you start praying for yourself.

Oh, and one more thing: everybody struggles with their commitment to prayer. Even great Christian leaders sometimes lack the discipline they need… I read an article by a well-known author who says he has to reward himself with ice cream to motivate himself to pray at night. You’re not alone!