Prayer: The Struggle Is Real
Since becoming a Christian a few years ago, I’ve had one struggle that has stood above the rest: praying authentically and consistently. I’ve talked to many other believers and it seems that all of them struggle with it too. Why is that? In the last post, we learned that because of the gospel, we’ve been adopted into God’s family and as God’s adopted children, we have the wonderful privilege of praying to our Father. Shouldn’t prayer come natural, then? Why is prayer such a struggle?
That’s one of the questions that led me to write each of these blog posts. I don’t have the answer to the question (and I don’t think there is a simple, one-size-fits-all answer). I’m still struggling to pray authentically and consistently. My hope is that God will use this short series to help you and I pray better.
What is prayer?
Renowned theologian JI Packer describes prayer in this way:
“God speaks to us in and through the contents of the Bible, which the Holy Spirit opens up and applies to us and enables us to understand. We then speak to God about Himself, and ourselves, and people in His world, shaping what we say as response to what He has said.”
If Packer’s description of prayer is accurate, then prayer is a believer’s response to the revelation that God has given through His word (the Bible). God reveals, we respond in prayer. That seems simple enough. In this post and the next, let’s look at three primary themes that are revealed in God’s word and the proper response to each in prayer.
God has revealed Himself
From beginning to end, the Bible reveals who God is. God is the creator and sustainer of all things (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:17). God is omnipotent, possessing the power and ability to accomplish all of His plans (Daniel 4:34–35; Job 42:2). God is omniscient, knowing everything about everything and everybody at all times throughout history (Proverbs 15:3; Romans 11:33–36). God is a Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; one God, three distinct persons, and each person is fully God (Matthew 3:16–17; John 1:1–4).
How should we respond in prayer to God’s revelation of Himself? The Bible gives us three primary responses: praise (Psalm 92:1; Hebrews 13:15), adoration (Psalm 103:1–5; Luke 11:2), and thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4; Colossians 4:2). As the Holy Spirit enables us to see more of God’s glory revealed in the Bible, may we seek to incorporate each of these responses in our prayers.
God has revealed who we are
The Bible reveals that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27) and that our purpose is to glorify Him in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). As creatures, we are fully dependent on our Creator to provide everything we need for life, including life itself (Genesis 2:7; Acts 17:25; 1 Timothy6:13). We are deeply sinful (Jeremiah 17:9) and born with a rebellious nature that refuses to honor God or give him thanks (Romans 1:21). And unlike God, we have limited knowledge of any circumstance we’re in and are ignorant of many things (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:13–15).
A proper response in prayer to God’s revelation of who we are includes confession of sin and repentance (Isaiah 6:5; Luke 18:13; 1 John 1:9), requests for provision (Matthew 6:11) and wisdom (James 1:5), intercession on behalf of other believers (Ephesians 6:18–20; Philippians 1:9–11), confession of our anxieties (1 Peter 5:7), and cries for help (Hebrews 4:15–16).
Because of the gospel, we can approach God with confidence, knowing that he hears our prayers and is eager to provide us with all that we need to do His will. In our next post, we’ll look at one more theme that God has revealed in His word and how we should respond in prayer.