Wrestling With Prayer

Notice that the title is not “wrestling in prayer” (which may well be a title for another post) . . .

This is a reading from A. W. Tozer that my mind has been mulling over for several days:

At Home in the Prayer Chamber

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. — Daniel 6:10

Thomas a’ Kempis wrote that the man of God ought to be more at home in his prayer chamber than before the public….

No man should stand before an audience who has not first stood before God. Many hours of communion should precede one hour in the pulpit. The prayer chamber should be more familiar than the public platform. Prayer should be continuous, preaching but intermittent.

It is significant that the schools teach everything about preaching except the important part, praying. For this weakness the schools are not to be blamed, for the reason that prayer cannot be taught; it can only be done. The best any school or any book (or any article) can do is to recommend prayer and exhort to its practice. Praying itself must be the work of the individual. That it is the one religious work which gets done with the least enthusiasm cannot but be one of the tragedies of our times. (God Tells The Man Who Cares: God Speaks to Those Who Take Time to Listen, 70-71) (emphasis mine)

Just do a google search on “Prayer” or a book search on Amazon or CBD, and pages of entries result. Not just a few. Pages . . .so here is my “wrestling” —

For many, the hardest part of any task is the starting of the task. Planning, thinking, researching, asking opinions — they all have merit. But the room will not get painted until you actually pick up a brush, open the can, and start painting the walls. All the paint chips and interior decorator recommendations and HGTV shows and YouTube videos will not get the room painted. You have to actually do it.

But — if you don’t know how to paint, you will make a mess and the room will look awful! What kind of analogy is that for prayer? To which I reply . . . I said that planning and opinions and research all have merit. But nothing gets done without the doing of it. Period.

And here is the good, exciting news (it excited me, anyway) . . .

As a believer, I have the BEST mentor, the BEST teacher on prayer. The Author of prayer; the Creator of everything; my Savior, my Sovereign.

Psalm 25:4-5 ESV – 4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 16:7-8 ESV – 7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken

Psalm 32:8 ESV – 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

As well as the Holy Spirit being our ever-present Counselor on prayer and interceding for us (see Romans 8); Jesus also is interceding for us (Romans 8). And, we have God’s Word as our resource and source for prayer! Not only the psalms, but also the prayers recorded of the Old Testament saints and prophets; Jesus’ prayers in the gospels; the prayers of Paul and Peter, James and Jude and John in the epistles.

Here is how I just started “painting the room.” As I wrote before, I am reading through the psalms in a month, taking 5 psalms each day (the chapter of the day, and add 30. Today is January 6, so 6, 36, 66, 96, 126). Using these psalms as the starting place, I pray for whomever and whatever God brings to mind. So much of the time seems to be spent in confession and worship and sitting in awe of the majesty of God. There is no magic formula. For some it does help to keep a journal, write a list. For me, this time, I open my Bible, and cry out earnestly,

Psalm 119:10, 12, 15, 18 ESV – 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! … 12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! … 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. … 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

God is honestly “uniting my heart to fear [His] name (from psalm 86).” I am in wonder that the Sovereign of all creation has told me that He hears my prayers, and that He wants me to pray to Him. (see psalm 4, 57, 62, 86 which is just a start). What an opportunity; what steadfast love; what grace . . .

To echo Tozer, “. . .The best any school or any book (or any article) can do is to recommend prayer and exhort to its practice. Praying itself must be the work of the individual.” I highly recommend prayer; I exhort all of us as believers to “open the can and start painting.”

3 thoughts on “Wrestling With Prayer

  1. This is so true. What is prayer? It is communicating with God. I love the analogy of painting a room. If it ends up messy, God’s love for us overlooks the messy, He just wants us to do it.

  2. Often when we struggle to pray, is when we need to pray. But, I am also glad that God already knows what we need before we ask it, But that doesn’t mean we negate praying. If all fails, we have the Model Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer. Thanks for this blog post. God Bless!

  3. I have been struggling with how to pray and accepting my prayers that go unanswered. I pray for peace in the world and that the riots stop and people love one another. Will God answer that prayer when Satan incites the wicked to destroy, kill, and steal (Jn 10:10). I am encouraged by your post. Thank you.

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