Practice and Discipline
It's probably the case that there's hardly any Christian who hasn't been discouraged with their prayer life. I know there have been lots of times that I wish I were praying better or that my prayer life felt richer or I was more consistent with it. You're not alone. Most people in the history of the church have wished that they prayed better.
In fact, maybe it's one of the reasons that God wants us to pray, because it is so humbling to try to pray. And we do so in faltering steps at times. If you're feeling really discouraged about your prayer life, remember that it is a discipline. We'd like to think that we just wake up in the morning and we're so excited to pray, but there's a reason it's called a spiritual discipline. It does take some act of the will.
And as a discipline, that means there are going to be times where it doesn't feel like much. Just take the discipline of running or exercising. You don't often jump out of bed and always feel like you want to do it, but you keep doing it. And even though the individual day or activity may not feel like much, there's a cumulative effect that you are growing. It’s the same way with prayer. You are growing and exercising those spiritual muscles, and God is changing you—often imperceptibly—even when it may not feel like it.
So keep doing it. Oftentimes, those experiences of feeling like This was an amazing prayer time today will come, and oftentimes they will go, but you keep up with the discipline of it. And God honors that and is pleased with that. And he understands that even in our fumbling attempts at prayer—because of Jesus—he still hears us.
Kevin DeYoung is the author of The Lord’s Prayer: Learning from Jesus on What, Why, and How to Pray.
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