My little girl one time just drove me to tears.
I walked into the bedroom and the moment she saw me she just opened her arms. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that her father was going to receive her, that her father was going to love her, that her father was full of joy to see her.
Do you remember a time like that? Do you remember when movies were a very little thing? Do you remember when your great desire was to simply pray? And your great desire was to just be before him and somehow, he would have noticed you? The greatest desire as a young believer, maybe was just to be in his presence?
Something has happened.
If we had to be honest with all sincerity, we all know how prayer is crucial in the Christian life. To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. Prayer is about being God-centered and about learning to look at life from God’s perspective. It is about finding out what God wants.
However, I recall a time in my spiritual journey when I struggled to pray. My heart was heavy and it almost felt unbearable. In this fallen sin-stained darkened world, as Martin Luther the Reformer said, “world with devils filled,” my prayers felt as though were not heard and attacked from the evil one from every angle. My desire dwindled as I wandered in the spiritual desert of isolation. I began to question, “Does God really listen to my prayers? Does he really hear me when I cry out to him?”
How’s your prayer life? Here are three practical steps on how to pray in your dullest moments
1. Pray Even When you don’t Feel like Praying
I simply come to Him by faith and pray. Come to Him even when you don’t have the words for the Spirit intercedes for us.
I have learned in the past several years, that the best way to ignite my prayerless dullest moments is to simply step in obedience by faith. I have seen that prayer as kindling for holy fire. Trusting God means believing Him more than we believe in our own feelings.
“Well, it can’t possibly be that simple!” Well you see, prayer is practicing the presence of God. God wants us to pray and He wants to hear our prayers. Not because we are worthy, but because He is a merciful God. You are valuable for we have a loving Father.
I believe this is what Paul meant, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26) John Bunyan a puritan preacher and the author of Christian allegory of The Pilgrim’s Progress said it well, “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
I remember as a new believer, I was desperate for the presence of God, I would lock myself in a closet. I came to the point where I wasn’t going to pray for anything, Lord, but you. I want you to come. I want to know you. I want you to come. And so, I began to pray. In the quietness of the silence, that is where the joy of God came. Simply in his presence by faith, it is beyond words.
The presence of God is such a joy and here we have God speaking the same thing about our presence to him. (2 Corinthians 2:15) There’s someone who longs to hear your voice today. There may be no one listening to you now, but God longs to hear your voice, a kind voice, an honest voice.
2. When You’re Not Able to Pray, Read the Scriptures
“I don’t know if I am worthy to be received.” You are not. You never will be, but that is not the point. Your unworthiness is swallowed up by his love (1 Corinthians 15:54). His love is so great it really does cover a multitude of sins (Proverbs. 10:12).
Scripture commands us to, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.” (John 15:7) Prayer is about connecting to God and learning to love Him through the Word of God. Christ is an exceedingly glorious and precious reality of the center and circumference of our very identity and existence, both now and forever.
The Bible gives us words on what to say even during our difficult times.
I recall one time where as a new believer I was struggling against sin and I passionately longed to be pleasing to Christ and be a blessing unto him yet I mourned so often as I looked into the mirror of my own soul and saw all the ways which I failed and fall short of His glory. I felt like God couldn’t accept me and I wasn’t able to come to him because of what I’ve done.
Then I stumbled over these words in the scripture, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) It is as sinful to mourn over the sins that God has forgiven and rejoice over the sins we have committed. As Jerry Bridges said it well, “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”
3. Take time to Remember God’s Blessing in Your Life
He is trustworthy and faithful to not leave us nor forsake and he sees us through it all (Deuteronomy 31:6).
So often, I see myself and realize that I just have this puny thing for him. I look around
and see the man that has gone before me. And there is God’s love that burns bright as
the falling star, like a candle on the tip flame. And my love? Jonathan Hayashi’s love? Who would want it?
“You’re not Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, or Jonathan Edwards. You really think He wants a trash like you? You worthless rubbish,”
You can just forget about that! Don’t even put that in your head. You will not find it in the bible and it is straight out of the pit of hell. Our God is not a God who tolerates! Our God is a God who loves, desires and earns for you.
See, prayer is all about Him. You have finally walked through a door where all that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. It has been taken care of. It is over now and not all the powers of hell could close it down. When it is finished like he said on the cross (John 19:30), when it was finished like our Savior said it was really finished. It was a done deal. Remember His love and abide in that glorious Truth (John 15:4).
A Call to Reformation of Prayer
The devil hates prayer. Why? Prayer is the most important thing you can do in your life. Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.
If you stand for truth in prayer, you will often be attacked and isolated by the devil alone, but if you have God on your side, what more do you need?
Prayer is not mastering the mechanics of how to come to God, nor prayer is throwing flowers up in the air of poetic literature, nor is prayer bringing a shopping list to Jesus. But prayer is a language of seeking. Prayer is communion with God and communion is deeper beyond mere doctrine and captures one’s heart.
Don’t lose heart (Luke 18:1). Be not dismayed (Isaiah 41:10). Grow determined. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The one who is on our side said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)
So, have a little talk with Jesus. You have that little talk with Jesus. Have that honest real gut feeling conversation with him. You have these kinds of conversations with God!
As Oswald Chamber said, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works – prayer is the greater work.”
Jonathan Hayashi, Ph.D.
Dr. Jonathan Hayashi has a B.A. of Pastoral Ministry, M.A. of Congregational Leadership, and a Doctor of Educational Ministry. He presently serves on the Executive Committee at Southwest Baptist University (Bolivar, MO) and on the Board of Trustees at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jonathan is a contributor for the bi-weekly journal, Pathway (Missouri Baptist Convention), and is the author of Ordinary Radicals: A Return to Christ-Centered Discipleship, as well as Making Lemonade: Turning Past Failures into Gospel Opportunities. Jonathan is a level II-certified biblical counselor with the ACBC. He and his wife, Kennedi, have four children: Kaede, Seiji, Anna, and Ren.