How are you going with your praying? I am not sure that there are many topics more likely to make a Christian person feel inadequate than this. There are not many of us who would reply: “Great! I am praying well and often. I think I am quite good at it”!
It is good to remember that the power, effectiveness and value of our prayers does not depend on their quality — certainly not on the qualities or abilities of the person praying. This applies to both the manner and the content of our prayers. Often we do not know what to pray (Romans 8:26), and frequently we know our spiritual weakness more when we pray than at any other time.
This is not a bad thing!
We pray, not because our prayers are good, wise or powerful, but because the One to whom our prayers are addressed is all of those things. He is perfectly able to answer the prayers that come from mixed motives, confused thinking and anxious, weak faith. How good is that!
This does not excuse laziness, thoughtlessness or ill discipline in our prayers. It does, however, remind us that in prayer we turn away from ourselves to the one “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). There is no sense in despairing at our weak and foolish prayers. All depends on God, and he is “able to make all grace abound to you” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Psalm 107 describes various groups of people whose prayers the Lord answered. This refrain is repeated:
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress (Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28)
One group of whom this is said is described as follows:
Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction (Psalm 107:17)
And yet the Lord heard and answered even their prayers!
We pray, not because we are good, but because God is merciful — not because we are spiritual giants, but because the Lord is gentle with us — not because we know what is best, but because our heavenly Father is “of infinite power, wisdom and goodness.”
Like me, you may well feel that you are not much good at praying. That’s true. But let’s be people who do pray anyway.
Your brother in Christ
John Woodhouse (Acting Senior Minister)