Sunday, January 04, 2009

One Reason for Prayer

We pray in order to stimulate, deepen, and strengthen our faith.

This reason for prayer is almost a complete reversal of our usual idea, which is that we pray because our faith is strong and at its best. Prayer is an activity we are called to perform when our faith is not complete, when things are not going well, when God seems far from us. These are the times when we most need prayer. These are also the times when prayer is most difficult and we are prone to procrastinate in our praying, thinking that we just do not have enough time for prayer. We put off prayer and allow time for prayer to get squeezed out of our schedule even when we say to ourselves that prayer is vitally important to us. The near-universal difficulty of finding time for prayer on a regular basis suggests that more than laziness or lack of faith is the issue. We are up against some inner conflict about who we are and who God is, and our flight from prayer is also a way of fleeing from our confusion and ambiguity.

When we discover our resistance to prayer, we should realize that we are in deep conflict, whether we are conscious of it or not. Part of us wants to seek God's will and the other part of us is digging in its heels to resist. The resisting part of us finds excuses not to pray, becomes obsessed with the dry spells and bored with prayer. We begin to doubt that prayer is worthwhile or get distracted from prayer by a variety of fantasies...We need to pray most when we least want to do it, because our resistance is a sign of some spiritual problem that only manifests itself in our reluctance to pray.

The act of prayer is a way of renewing a sense of God's presence in our lives and of deepening our own faith. But such renewal and depth come only when we have resisted the temptation to give up and have pushed ourselves to the demanding work of prayer. [emphasis mine]

--from my current reading: Reformed Spirituality by Howard L. Rice, pp. 75,76


Anonymous said...

Challenging food for thought!

Nikki said...

Love the post. I have to agree that lack of prayer results from laziness.

Jeanie Rose said...

A suggestion:
When prayer life seems dry, God far away, emotions screaming for first place, used readily available Scripture prayers for breaking through to vibrant faith. A number of collections are available such as Prayers that Prevail. Praying the Word of God releases the power that is in that Word. The power is a two edged sword. One side swings Heaven-ward in prayer, the other swings back on you. You are impacted by the God-power of the Scripture you just prayed.

No way to stay in a slump!