I know my problems are real, but often I wonder if my prayers are. Am I praying “right” and does God care? I’m so honored to host author Elisa Morgan (MOPS President Emerita) on such a tender topic. Her words are just what I needed lately. Read on for a fresh perspective on your prayer-life. -Andrea
Why Don’t we Pray About it?
by Elisa Morgan
I lie awake in the night and worry. Driving on errands, my mind darts between the obstacles in my day, searching for a smoother path. Knee-deep in a conversation, I reach for a handhold out from what seems like a ditch of disconnection.
Why don’t I pray about what’s in my heart and on my plate?
Author Paul Miller commiserates, “Our inability to pray comes from the Fall. Evil has marred the image. We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. It’s as if we’ve had a stroke.” (1)
Oh so true! There are moments I experience a kind of spiritual aphasia before God. I send commands to my being to express my desires to God and my yieldedness to his will but then my mouth won’t move. I form some words, slingshot them toward God but before I’ve even finished my release, I’ve forgotten my prayer posture and my mind slips toward something else.
James writes of the trouble such a condition can bring, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).
Sometimes I’m a doubter, “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). James goes on to say that such a person “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (verse 7).
In other moments I conclude that I’m too selfish to experience God’s response to my prayers as James, again, warns, “When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).
At the center of all my struggles, I’m not sure my babbling before God actually counts as praying.
Okay, settle down, Elisa. The psalms are filled with examples of David and other pilgrims crying out to God in everyday emotion. Perhaps prayer doesn’t have to begin with an “Our Father” and end with an “Amen” to be prayer. Theologian Richard Foster offers such hope as he writes, “Countless people, you see, pray far more than they know. Often they have such a ‘stained-glass’ image of prayer that they fail to recognize what they are experiencing as prayer and so condemn themselves for not praying.” (2)
Whew. Whether bent-kneed and patterned or simply stream of conscious rumbling, my prayers are just that: prayers.
I’m pretty sure you relate here. Why don’t we pray more about more things that really matter to us? Why don’t we take advantage of the heart relationship of prayer that God provides for us? Like me, have you been making prayer harder than it has to be? Harder than God means it to be?
For Jesus, prayer was an unending, uninterrupted conversation with the rest of himself. And for us, prayer can be the same: conversation with the God who formed us in our mother’s wombs, who knows the number of hairs on our heads, who hears a word before it is formed on our tongues and who longs to give us what we need before we even ask.
Why would we do anything but pray about it?
Before a word is on my tongue, you Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:4
1. Paul Miller, “The Hardest Place in the World to Pray,” April 11, 2017, http://thedisciplemaker.org/the-hardest-place-in-the-world-to-pray/
2. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), xi-xii.
Elisa Morgan (MDiv) was named by Christianity Today as one of the top fifty women influencing today’s church and culture. She has authored over twenty-five books including The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, She Did What She Could and her most recent release, When We Pray Like Jesus. For twenty years, Elisa served as CEO of MOPS International and now is President Emerita. She speaks internationally, writes for Our Daily Bread Devotional and co-hosts Discover the Word radio and the podcast God Hears Her for Our Daily Bread Ministries.
You can find out more about Elisa, book her to speak at your event and sign up for her blog, Really, which reaches thousands at www.elisamorgan.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@elisamorganauthor) and on Twitter (@elisa_morgan).
With her husband of forty-one years, Evan, she has two grown children and two grandchildren who live near her in Denver, Colorado. Coach, her Rottie-wannabe, takes her on walks daily.
Originally published on the Really blog at www.elisamorgan.com. Used by permission of Elisa Morgan.
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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.