Struggling with Prayer

On this day, after the forty-sixth Presidential inauguration, when the country, according to the media, finally is at peace and at rest and unified, there are some of us (me) who are not at rest and struggling. Though the world says peace and safety at last, I know differently. Though the newspapers and the TV media are smiling and showing a sigh of relief, I am tense and on guard. All is really not going well, and won’t go well. The left is planning war against us Christians. They are scheming against us. And the devil is taking advantage of our unrest. He is and will come against us to destroy us so that we will not rise again. What can be done?

I have been blogging on the Lord’s Prayer, and so, I think this is a good time to put it all together and really try to better my own prayer habits from that Lord’s-Prayer-outline. I, and we all need more and better prayer at this time. If you have been following my blog posts on this prayer, we have pointed out that there is an invocation, “Our Father in Heaven”; then six petitions. The first three have to do with prayer for the glory of God; and then the next three have to do with our own needs.

The struggle for me is how to use this prayer outline in my own prayers. If I pray according to my own feelings and inclinations, I probably won’t use the outline at all; I will just tell God how I feel. If I do that, His prayer outline becomes useless. But if I force myself to use the outline, then my prayers usually become mechanical and sometimes without much heart. So, what do I do? I have to tell you that I haven’t completely figured it out yet. But I have some ideas that I am now thinking about, that I think will allow my prayer to get better. So here are my ideas.

My goal will be to use the Lord’s Prayer outline as a guide and yet to find a way to pray with my heart in it—so that His prayer outline will also be my outline, and also that I will be praying with my own heart.

The first thing that I think will be very helpful is to write out my prayers using the Lord’s prayer as a guide, and to try to write as much as I can. I will have the goal of writing a seven-page prayer with each page under the heading of one of the Lord’s Prayer points. So, on page one I will write on “Our Father.” Then on page two I will write on “Hallowed be Thy name,” and so on. And to make it less mechanical, I will really work on getting smooth transitions from page to page. Maybe on some days, when I have more time, I will try to write two pages per outline point, making it a fourteen-page prayer. I will continue this prayer writing exercise for many days, maybe for a few months.

Next, when I feel that I have mastered the writing, I will try to pray just in my thoughts without writing it out. And each time I do it, I will try to pray with my heart and all the while asking Him to help me pray.

As I think on these ideas, I am so aware that prayer is a struggle and hard work. It is hard to pray correctly and hard to train my mind to be attentive to Him. This is so much of what prayer is—being attentive to Him. It will also be challenging to get everything to fit where it belongs; that is, where in the prayer outline do I confess sins, and where do I pray for friends, and so many other things. These are things that need to be worked out in the prayer writing; and then hopefully, when I graduate from the writing, I will have it figured out—so that in the end I will know how to pray to the Father appropriately and with praise.

In all that I have written here I am mainly talking about your private prayers. Public prayer may be similar, but not as long. I think public prayers should always be short, as not to appear prideful, and also to allow others to pray.

Plan to Pray Long

There are so many people with so many needs, which require us to spend much time in prayer.  But, as Wesley Duewel has said, “We will never have enough time for prayer unless we deliberately plan for it…The time we give to prayer by deliberately planning is the measure of our value of prayer.  It is the truest measure of our love for Jesus.”5

I urge you to follow our Lord’s example in praying at night and in the early morning.  If the Lord is calling you to get up early in the morning to pray, if you want to be powerfully used by God and if you want to really know Him, you must immediately get up when He wakes you.  As E. M. Bounds has said, “No man gets God who does not follow hard after Him.”6

So wake your lazy bones up and get going with God (I’m talking to myself)!   If you are prone to be lazy and want to sleep in, I urge you to instead follow the desire to pray.  That holy desire will provide for you a great blessing when you heed its call.  And when you have decided that you are going to rise early to pray, that decision, backed up with action, will break all your self-indulgent chains, giving you greater and greater strength and desire for God.

Besides morning and evening prayers, Sunday afternoon is a great time to spend an hour or two in prayer.  What better time to use for prayer than the Lord’s Day.

If you are planning to pray long, don’t be discouraged if the first few minutes are especially difficult.  It seems, at least for me, that after twenty minutes or so of struggling in prayer, the rest of the time is more enjoyable and less of a struggle.  That is because it often takes that long to enter into that heavenly realm where you are in awe of God. 

When you get to that place in your prayers, you will almost forget that you are on earth struggling in the flesh; you will be more conscious that you are with God in the heavenly places.  That is, you will be so taken up with God that you will forget all about your earthly affairs.  In that blissful time, your thoughts will be more with God’s thoughts; therefore, you won’t be concerned with all of your worries; you will be more concerned for the will of God.  During that sweet time of prayer, you won’t be thinking about what you could be doing or what you should be doing; rather, you will be so overcome with desire for God that all you will want to do is to drink and imbibe deeply of His love. 

I challenge you to extend your prayer time for longer than twenty minutes.  It will be less of a struggle from then on.  And the blessings that follow will be tremendous!


5 Wesley Duewel, Mighty Prevailing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Francis Asbury Press, of Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), p. 160.

6 E. M. Bounds, Power through Prayer, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House), 1979, p. 58.