“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you always in my prayers.” (Eph. 1:16)
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4:2)
Of all the spiritual exercises God has given his people, it seems that nothing is quite so challenging as the discipline of prayer. Prayer is at once a wonderful gift given by God and a huge responsibility commanded by God. Through prayer we have an intimate communion with our Lord. Through prayer we lift one another up to heaven’s throne.
One big challenge we face in prayer is the challenge of time. There never seems to be enough time, which is a universal issue we all face in spite of our widely varying circumstances. Whether it’s a mother with small children at home, a businessman on the road, the family going 15 different directions in a normal day, or the quiet, empty nest there is never enough time. How many people do you and I know who say they have plenty of time to pray?
Part of the reason for this is the simple fact that prayer is work.....hard work. For years I kept thinking that sooner or later the Holy Spirit would somehow transform my personality in such a way that prayer would be easy and my calendar would magically open up time to pray everyday. (Good grief, I’m a preacher. Surely God would do that for me, right? WRONG!) My thought process in this was more than little bit faulty. After all there is no evidence of this magical transformation occurring with anyone, anytime, anywhere. It does not happen in the Bible. I have yet to read the biography of any great prayer warrior in whom this occurred. I have certainly never heard of this from anyone I personally know.
Bottom line. Prayer is work. Hard work. Always has been. Always will be. If I would pray as God commands, I will have to fight for the time, fight to keep the time, and work hard to learn how to pray and pray well.
One of the great moments in a parent’s life is when his/her child shows signs of maturity. You know what I mean. It is when your children start to grow up. He sees what needs to be done and rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. She stops expecting someone else to do it for her. He stops complaining about how hard it is to get a job and work everyday. It's wonderful when our children begin to take responsibility for the every day stuff that has to be done and works to make it what it should be.
Can you imagine how pleased our Heavenly Father is when his children face the reality of life, roll up our sleeves, acknowledge that prayer is work, and gets after it. After all, time with God is worth it. Time spent laboring in prayer for our loved ones, our friends, and his kingdom growth is time well spent. Let’s get to work and see what God can do through his people when they do the hard work of prayer.