If You Feel Weary in Prayer
There’s a DIY project laying dormant. At one point, I was all in; I’d gathered supplies, done a bit of research, and eagerly dove in. As the work progressed, the paint color wasn’t quite right, I hadn’t sanded enough and in all the disappointment, my optimism deflates, and the project collapses.
Sometimes prayer is like my project, beginning with momentum, but then moving forward, we encounter so many issues to pray through, especially in these challenging times.
Have you noticed yourself becoming weary in it?
We seek God’s help in trying times: Praying for health, safety and protection of our friends and family, for the gospel to continue going out in the world, and that God will help preserve our thoughts to what’s pure, lovely and beautiful, instead of fixating on fear, anxiety and despair.
Prayers sound repetitive; many remain unanswered. The battle against ongoing negativity feeds our mind with confusion and our soul with frustration. We may wonder, ‘what’s the point?’ as our heart longs to retreat.
In Romans 12, Paul paints a picture of the transformed life of a believer in how we love and serve those around us. Neatly tucked between his instructions to love and be generous, he writes, “be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12).
Isn’t this the persistent patience God is asking of us? To continually cast all our concerns before him, day after day, as our daily act of dependence. Our demonstration of trust and remembrance believing he is holding all things in his hand.
This is relationship.
Jesus tells a story in Luke 11 about a guest arriving late at night, catching his host off guard with no food in the home. Hospitality being a sacred duty, there was no option except to supply nourishment for him in whatever way he could. So, he goes next door, waking up his neighbor, brazenly pleading for a few loaves to feed his guest.
Like arriving at a birthday party without a gift, the humiliation was unmistakable. He shamelessly persists until the neighbor finally rouses to aid him.
Do we feel shame in asking the Lord again and again for his help?
In the strength of our own might we seem to live out our days, providing for our own families, making our own choices, yet this illusion is to our downfall. For, “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Ps 20:7). We can’t rely on our own strength or power because it fails us.
The Westminster shorter catechism tells us that man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. This means relationship. He created us in his own image for a relationship with him. While sin fractured that connection, through the life, death and resurrection of Christ we have received grace and forgiveness to commune with him, not through a priest as in the Old Testament, but by his Spirit who dwells within us. Responding to his great love we put away our independence, trust his leading, and walk in faithfulness to his ways.
Though we may feel insignificant in a puddle of unanswered prayers, or ashamed to need his help yet again, it is only in him we find our help, from the one who made heaven and earth. In the same way we depend on Christ for our salvation, we rely on his sustaining grace each and every day, to provide us the strength to persevere.
As an example, we read in his letter to the Ephesians as they put on their spiritual armour to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph 6:18).
Paul admonishes them to keep praying. Not only that, but he specifically asks them to pray for him. He acknowledges his own need of their prayers in many of his letters. The message is both to keep praying, to remain steadfast in our walk with the Lord, and we need prayer, to remind us of our human weakness and God’s greatness.
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Ps 141:2). Our prayers are an act of worship. May we rely on his strength in our weariness.