Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wait. Prayer is hard?

Chapter two of Keller's work on prayer addresses various aspects of it, one being the hardness of prayer. He introduces the section by writing:
I can think of nothing great that is also easy. Prayer must be, then, one of the hardest things in the world. To admit that prayer is very hard, however, can be encouraging. If you struggle greatly in this, you are not alone.
Keller writes about a loneliness and emptiness when we first try to establish our prayer life. He observes this to be a very important step as we don't necessarily understand this to be our state until we begin to feel, "lonely and hungry," for God.

Likening the above to physical hunger or loneliness was helpful for me. I can think of many times when for whatever reason I wasn't able to eat for a period of time. Then, when I was able to eat I found it difficult, I was almost so hungry that I wasn't wanting to eat....if that makes any sense. Same with loneliness or solitude. Doing something by yourself for an extended period of time and then trying to interact with other people suddenly can prove challenging. You get used to doing your own thing. I've become irritable or frustrated or short tempered or....or...or I could keep going all day.

Keller provides encouragement for the difficulties we may experience, he writes:
In the beginning the feeling of poverty and absence usually dominates, but the best guides for this phase urge us not to turn back but rather to endure and pray in a disciplined way, until, as Packer and Nystrom say, we get through duty to delight[...]the pursuit of God in prayer eventually bears fruit, because God seeks for us to worship him (John 4:23) and because prayer is so infinitely rich and wondrous.
I'm thankful that I'm not the only person that finds prayer difficult, however, the challenge will be not using this as a crutch for a hollow and underdeveloped prayer life. I look forward to what the rest of the book presents.

1 comment:

  1. This goes well with a concept from my sermon for this Sunday. I am preaching on Jesus' statement "I am the true vine." His command to us in these verses is to abide. To abide is to remain and to continue in Him. One of the ways we do this is in prayer; he mentions prayer in this passage. The term abide gives us a sense of persevering;it's not going to be easy! I appreciate Keller's frankness in terms of the difficulty of prayer, but also his courage in not lessening the expectation because of the difficulties.