COLOSSIANS 4:2-3 – Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.”
THEME OF THE DAY: OVERCOMING STRUGGLES IN PRAYER. Ask any Christian, “How important is prayer for the Christian?” and the immediate answer will be, “Very. It is essential to our spiritual health.” Then ask the same Christian, “How is your prayer life?” and a little sheepish response might be forthcoming in words like this, “It could be better. I struggle and need to work on it.” And furthermore, offer this third question to said Christian after you read to him or her today’s scripture, “Why do you think we struggle so much for a prayer life that is consistent, fervent, bathed in thanksgiving and includes pleas for opportunities to share God’s Word?” It is the last question we dive into for today’s nugget and that by answering the “why we struggle” with three reasons.
First, our struggle with a consistent and fervent prayer life is because it is the most attacked area in a Christian and church by the devil. John Bunyan once said, “Prayer is the shield of the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.” When was one of the most intense spiritual battles in the life of the Lord Jesus? The Garden of Gethsemane as He was praying. Our Lord was in an extreme spiritual conflict that night. Luke reveals to us its graphic nature while Jesus was agonizing in prayer – And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:39-44). Always remember, true prayer, not the quick, “Thanks for the food, Lord”, but the kind in today’s scripture is war requiring a soldier mentality in us if we are going to develop a consistent and fervent prayer life.
Another area of struggle in our attempts to build an effective prayer life is the weakness of our flesh. Jesus identifies this among His disciples also at the Garden of Gethsemane – And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41). It is enlightening, even convicting, how we can remain alert and attentive watching a movie or two late into the night, attend a lengthy event, or give ourselves over to some worldly activity or hobby and rarely lose interest or get distracted. Yet, attempt to pray for any length of time and we get sleepy, distracted, and likely give up. That is the power of our flesh which never surrenders to the will when seeking to develop a prayer life of intimacy and influence.
A final area of struggle against an effective prayer life that applies both in private and with other Christians is we simply lack the self-discipline, resolve, and commitment to do the hard work to gain such a prayer life. We are easily distracted by lesser things. We easily justify the lack of self-control. We simply don’t say “No” to the fleshly screams for comfort and ease which is absolutely necessary for a healthy prayer life. The Apostle Paul exhorts us by his example what to do in the area of self-discipline – But I discipline my body and keep it under control . . .(1 Corinthians 9:27a).
So, we must overcome struggles to have a prayer life that is consistent, fervent, full of thanksgiving and seeks God to open doors for the Gospel. They are real and must be confronted and conquered, but behind all of them, and the first foundation stone toward such a life is a hunger for God. We will be enabled by God to build this type of prayer life when our desires for Him are genuine, intense, and move us to action in building such a prayer life as He would have us.
PRAYER: “Father, open my eyes to see prayer as You see prayer and may it become the priority in my life.”
QUOTE: “The quality of our prayer lives is the chief determining factor in the quality of our entire Christian life.”
Because of Him,