Guest Post: Mckenna Mitchell
If God is what we need, and prayer is how we commune with him, why don’t we pray more?
I think the answer to that question is in some of our misunderstandings about prayer. The sooner we start to shed light on some of our misunderstandings about prayer, the sooner we will become people who pray.
“All we can do now is pray.”
This may be the one that I have said more times than I can count. Well, I have done all I can do, now I guess I am going to depend on God. I was with my best friend recently, and her mom just found out she has stomach cancer. We were in Marshalls, of all places, and a woman who was one of her mom’s acquaintances came up to her and was telling my friend all about how sorry she was about her mom and what was going on. The lady kept saying over and over and over again, “I just wish I could do something, but all I can do it pray.” She smiled politely and the woman left, and as she did, my friend turned to me and said, “You know, we serve a powerful God. Prayer isn’t nothing.” In that moment, I realized how many times I had belittled God by banking on him as a last resort. If God is really creator and sustainer of our whole lives, and if he holds the whole world together, than prayer is all we can ever do. We live and move and breath at his mercy and he loves when we come to him. That’s the first wrong thing we say about prayer. “All we can do now is pray. When in reality all we can ever do is pray.
Prayer should just come naturally.
As I was thinking about this this past week, I was struck with how few things in our life actually come naturally. Even the people with the strongest sets of gifts don’t have things come naturally for them. Think about Kevin Durant. He’s gifted, but he practices and gets better. Think about the best cook you’ve ever met. Even if they are passionate and have always had a knack for the kitchen, he or she has probably burned a few things in the process of getting good. Or what about politicians? Even the people who are the most polished with their words have become that way because they have practiced and studied. There is no such thing as skill that is entirely natural. There is no such thing as prayer that “just comes naturally.” Sure, there are people who are wordy and the perfect sentences just seem to roll off of their tongues. But, God is not impressed by that anyway. Do you realize that Jesus had to teach his disciples how to pray? They were walking with the God in the flesh and even they didn’t learn to pray by osmosis. Jesus laid out the Lord’s prayer for them as a blueprint to help them practice. Authentic prayer doesn’t just come naturally. It takes practice and patience.
God has bigger things to worry about.
Recently I have heard a few people say this to me. A few of them have said this afraid God would think they weren’t thankful for what he had given them. They don’t want to be complainers. And I get that. When you hear about horrible things like the Orlando shooting, or refugees stuck in camps in Turkey or someone suffering with cancer, it is hard to ask God to help you at your next meeting. When there are people around us who are experiencing tremendous pain, it makes sense that we count our blessings. But sometimes I think we fool ourselves into thinking praying less about ourselves is cutting God a break. In reality, that’s thinking less of God. If God can handle ISIS and random shooters and deep pain because of illness and epidemics, if he can handle poverty if he can bring about the redemption of sin of the entire world, how much more can he handle the little and big requests we have of him? Many of you are parents. Many of you have deep friendships and awesome families. If someone you loved thought they couldn’t come to you with a need, you would be really bummed. In the same way, God sent his son to die on the cross for you. He defeated death for you. The fact is, God is not overwhelmed by what is going on in the world, and he chose you as his child. God doesn’t have bigger things to worry about because he is in control of everything.
I am not in the right place to pray.
This is the hardest one for me. “I am not in the right place right now to pray.” A couple of weeks ago, I was really convicted about some issues that were bubbling up in my heart that I knew weren’t right. I knew they weren’t putting me in the right place with God. I was reading in 2 Samuel when God chose David and told him he would always have a descendent on the throne of Israel. I was thinking about how totally and completely God chose David, and yet only a few chapters later David would sleep with Bathsheba and have Urriah killed. God wasn’t surprised by that. And as tempting as it is to think that where we are with God makes us unworthy to pray, we are foolish to think we were ever worthy to begin with. God chose us knowing everything about us, from beginning to end, and just like David, who repented and remained a man after God’s own heart, we too can repent and know he is there. Jesus died not because we earned it. Jesus died because we couldn’t earn it and he wanted us to be able to have a relationship with him anyway. That’s the beauty of the Gospel, that’s the hope that we get to live in. That’s the prayer life we get to pursue.
God is holding all of us together. All we can ever do is pray.
Prayer doesn’t just come naturally, it takes practice and patience.
God doesn’t have bigger things to worry about because he is in control of everything.
On our own, we are never in the right place to pray.