It seems to me that prayer is a really difficult thing to do. We often struggle with the feeling that we must do it. There are also a lot of rituals and traditions associated with prayer. There are so many books and articles about how to pray that we seem to get more caught up with the how to rather than actually doing it. We might then loose interest and enthusiasm for something that is simply a conversation. It’s basically just talking and listening to the LORD. Simple doesn’t necessarily equal easy though, does it?
Let’s not worry or beat ourselves up if we struggle with it though. After all the New Testament has several passages describing both how to pray and what sorts of things we might pray about. However, I believe, these are more like guidelines to help us rather than rules that must be obeyed.
I personally find guidelines harder than strict rules!
Paul tackles an aspect of prayer in his letter to Timothy. He writes,
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time. … I want men everywhere to lift up Holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:1-6, 8 NIV)
Did you notice that Paul urges this but that it’s not a rule? However, it is best practice. The good or right things to do are often the hardest things to do, aren’t they?
Praying for everyone is really difficult, particularly if we don’t like them or have been hurt by them. Also praying for those in authority is particularly difficult if they are not leading for the best interests of those they have authority over. Oppressive leaders are to be prayed for; abusers are to be prayed for; criminals are to be prayed for – and we are to pray without anger or disputing! Now that is really tough to do. It’s difficult to even consider praying positively for those people, isn’t it? But what if it benefits us when we do pray for even those? From my experience it’s definitely worth it. It’s a huge blessing and brings so much peace and contentment. Although tough it is a choice that I regularly make and never regret.
Similarly, forgiveness is a practice that is worth practicing and persevering with. It benefits the person doing the forgiving. Again, even though tough, it’s I choice I regularly make and never regret.