The Struggle with the Divine Conversation: Prayer

Let’s take a moment and contemplate: How would you describe your prayer journey?

As devoted followers of Christ, we often compartmentalize our lives into different segments, and one such segment is our “prayer life.” An essential aspect of our Christian journey, prayer is often portrayed as this independent entity with its unique life.

I must confess that, as a Christian, I do pray, albeit less frequently than I ideally should. Despite recognizing the significance of prayer from various Biblical references, I find myself grappling to truly immerse myself in it.

I’ve withdrawn from my everyday life and retreated into the shadows, believing that solitude would bring me closer to God, fostering a divine exchange of words. I’ve bowed my head in crisis, in an attempt to signal my spiritual connection to those around me – a declaration that I’m engaging in a deep, divine conversation, so please, do not interrupt.

There are times when I’ve fallen short of my commitments, promising to pray for others, only to let their worries slip out of my mind as I walk out the door. After all, their burdens are not mine to bear, or so I’ve reasoned.

Social media has become a platform where such empty promises are more common than not. A familiar scenario: A distant acquaintance shares a personal problem or a crisis on Facebook, and the comments section fills up with well-intended, but often hollow, assurances of prayers.

Now, this is not to discount those who genuinely care and do remember to pray. However, I must candidly admit that I have often found myself in the former category.

Our small group recently engaged with Paul Miller’s book, “A Praying Life,” which stirred something deep within me. Miller elucidates the crux of our struggle with prayer: “Praying exposes how self-preoccupied we are and uncovers our doubts.” These words resonated deeply with me.

Often, the requests that I tend to leave out of my prayers fall into two categories: they’re either too grandiose (healing the ill, feeding the starving), or they’re too trivial (relieving a minor ache, finding lost items). These extremes have deterred me from praying as fervently as I should.

Reading the first chapter of Romans brings a pang of guilt, as Paul writes to the believers with a confident assertion that he prays for them constantly. He goes as far as to call God his witness! Can we say the same? I know I can’t.

Romans 1:8-12 gives us two valuable insights. Paul not only thanks God for his fellow believers, but he also expresses his desire to uplift and encourage them. This serves as an excellent template when we find our prayer life waning: firstly, thank God for the loved ones He has blessed us with, and then, ask for His guidance to be a source of encouragement for them.

As we engage in prayer with an attitude of gratitude, it opens us to God’s wisdom and intentions. It shifts our focus from self-centric to other-centric, thus fostering a deeper love for others and, indeed, enabling us to dedicate genuine time in prayer for them.