Day 4: How can I grow in prayer?
Author: Pastor Zach Zehnder
Bible Verses: Hebrews 4:16, Romans 8:26-27, John 15:4-7, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Not long ago, I went to a prayer service. Rather than feeling stimulated and refreshed, I walked away feeling guilty and frustrated. That night, when we were encouraged to pray silently for 15 minutes, I had difficulty fighting off distractions and focusing on praying. I felt guilty because if anyone should be praying well at this point, it should be me. I’m a lifelong follower of Jesus and have been a pastor for more than a decade. I shouldn’t be struggling this much to pray. I felt frustrated because I was genuinely committing and taking the time to instill this habit in a deep, meaningful fashion. Yet, it didn’t inspire me or make me feel closer to God.
It didn’t take me long to realize that both the guilt and the frustration were actually just lies from the enemy. I don’t need to feel guilty because the truth is that I’m making strides in my walk with God and in my prayer life, even when I don’t sense it. And I don’t need to be frustrated because when we begin to develop a habit, it often feels awkward, and we don’t see much change. That’s the thing about habits: you don’t always see growth while you’re in the moment. The realization of progress usually comes much later.
If you aren’t sure how to start praying, or you’ve come to a plateau in your prayer life, I want to encourage you today that the best way to learn to pray is to keep praying.
I’ve set goals with my workout partners to hit specific benchmarks in the gym. Truthfully, it feels like I experience short seasons of growth and long seasons of being stuck. I love the seasons of growth, and I hate the seasons where I feel stuck. But even when I’m stuck and don’t feel like I’m getting stronger, I can look back and see that I’ve made progress. I need to just keep putting in the reps. As I keep putting in the reps, I’m trusting that the repeated effort will one day help me get stronger.
If you want to become more effective in prayer, simply pray. Put in the reps. You may not notice your growth on a day-to-day basis, but you’ll see it eventually. In the course of this challenge, we’ll show you how Jesus prayed (who better to learn from?) and teach you a few handles that can help you.
When you pray, you may not see the immediate change in yourself or those you pray for. You may be discouraged because you don’t feel like your prayer life is getting any better. You may not sense God’s presence as you pray, but God assures us that He’s at work. While feelings are real, they aren’t always true. Dallas Willard says, “Feelings are good servants, but they are disastrous masters.” Trust in God’s promises and not your feelings.
Keep praying. Put in the reps. God doesn’t care about how we come, just that we come.
Day 4 Challenge: What is one small thing you can do daily that will help you make prayer more of a habit in your life? Identify that one thing and tell at least one other person.
Prayer Prompt: For your church and the local churches in your area.