A few years ago our home church in Michigan had a guest speaker come out and put on a seminar on the topic of prayer. This guest speaker was considered to have some wisdom on the subject and for an entire weekend our church came together to learn about prayer; the need for prayer in our lives, the different ways of praying, the value of corporate prayer, etc.
This makes sense because of course the Bible instructs believers to “pray without ceasing,” to “let [our] requests be made known to God,” to “cast [our] anxieties upon Him” and to “boldly go before the throne of grace.” We have the incredible privilege of being able to talk directly to God. Taking some time to reflect on those teachings and to learn more about prayer is not a bad idea in and of itself.
But to be honest: I left the seminar disappointed. Why?
The truth be known, there are times that I struggle in my prayer life. We all do. Some of these times are short lived and others extend for days, months or even years. It has been said that if prayer is an expression of our dependance on Him, then our lack of prayer is simply an expression of our independence from Him.
Why do I experience this, though? Is it because I don’t know what the Bible teaches on prayer? Is it because I haven’t “tasted the power of corporate prayer?” Is it because I am not disciplined enough or because I don’t understand the value of it?
Some of those things may be true. However, I wonder if the real issue isn’t deeper.
One of my favorite authors says this, “When the heart finds its rest in Him, it will turn naturally to Him in every circumstance.” You won’t find that quote in the Bible, but I do believe there is something to it. Could it be that our problem sometimes isn’t necessarily a lack of prayer, but rather a flawed perception of who we are in Him and a lack of restful dependance on Him? Prayer being an effect, rather than a cause; a fruit rather than a root?
Who is God and who am I in Christ? To know Him and to rest in who we are in Him should be our chief concern. In my own life, there have been times when I have most clearly walked according to who God says I am in Christ. These are the times when I am most conscious of all that Christ has done on my behalf; how my worthlessness was met by His worthiness; how He took my sinfulness and gave me His righteousness.
In these moments I find a fellowship with Him that naturally expresses itself in prayerful dependance on Him for everything.
Instead of challenging each other to pray, we should challenge each other to know Christ, and to find our rest in Him.
In this, its a wonder why we would ever stop praying.