“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
In answering the questions on our invitation to prayer, “When?” is perhaps the easiest to address. God calls us to come talk to Him in prayer all the time! There is always an occasion to be praying and building relationship with the Lord. The beautiful thing is we can come to Him whenever we want just as we are, regardless of where we find ourselves.
So, why is it so hard to pray sometimes?
Knowing when to pray is not hard to understand cognitively, but it is hard to apply in our lives. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, so why can some people find time to indulge in a rich prayer life while others barely think to utter one throughout the day? The problem is over and over again we encounter worries and things of this life that we let choke out our prayer times. For this reason, it is important to be alert and aware of the things that we allow to rob us of our prayer time in relationship with God.
For instance, the presence of sin in our lives makes it harder to pray. This is a reality simply because when we allow sin to exist in our lives. It enslaves us, taking up our time and thoughts. Matthew 6:24 makes it clear that we cannot be fully subject and devoted to serving two masters. We cannot serve both God and sin – one will take the focus and control of our lives. So if you find it hard to pray or feel distant from the Lord, take a minute and evaluate what is taking up your attention.
If it is sin, the answer is simple: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Through confessing and repenting our sins to the Lord and in community, we are humbling ourselves before the Him and asking for His forgiveness and help which He gives freely. This opens up communication between you and God.
Another thing that comes between us and God in prayer and relationship is too much busyness. If we fill all of our time, even serving the Lord and doing good things, at the expense of our personal time with Him, it will eventually damage our relationship with Him. God needs to be our focus and sustainer in order for us to continue walking according to His purpose, so if we drown out His voice and presence, it will not be long before we fall.
So, how can we avoid losing sight of God through all the chaos and responsibilities that fill our lives? It is important to keep the focus on Him. God is our everything! He is powerful, tender, mighty, wise and so much more; therefore, if we are intentional to give our attention to God, He will surely keep it with the sheer dynamic, engaging nature of who He is. Also, it is important to be living in Christian community, sharing life with people who encourage you to focus on God and put Him first. These people will remind you not to let other things in life take over the spot that should be His in your prayer life and thoughts.
The last thing that can rob us of our prayer time in relationship with God is pain. It is extremely difficult for us to talk to someone when there is hurt and pain in the relationship. Simply put, anger at God over pain in our lives can drive us away from Him.
It is ok to be angry with God. Again and again throughout the Bible, we see examples of strong believers crying out to God in fear, anger and pain. God is a big God and He can share our grief with us. The difference between letting pain separate us from God or draw us near to Him, is whether or not we continue to trust Him through it. If we trust Him, even though we may not have all the answers to our pain, we invite Him into it and can share in His healing.
Our invitation to come and pray to God is a never ending one! He calls us to talk to Him in relationship always. Understanding this command is not the hard part, but rather applying it in our daily walks and lives is. So if you are struggling to come to the Lord in prayer, remember to place your focus on Him first and He will help you with whatever is holding you back.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.