Why I Struggle Praying

 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread, [4] and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” [5] And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, [6] for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; [7] and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? [8] I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. [9] And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [10] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. [11] What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; [12] or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? [13] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:2-13 ESV)

 

It’s not a secret how we are to be praying.  In Luke chapter 11, Jesus clearly reveals how the father desires us to pray to Him.  It’s clearly revealed.  This is really good news of His grace to be so kind as to tell us how we can speak with Him.

So then the question is – why do I (we) not pray this way and pray this way more often?

I think there are five main reasons for this and all can be discovered in this text of Scripture.

1.  I do not truly treasure the glory of God.  

Father, hallowed be your name.” (11:2)  This is a desire of the heart that reveals Jesus’ desire to decrease and for the Father to increase. This is an honest confession that God’s name and value is worthy enough to be celebrated and reveled in.  Do I truly want to encounter God in such a way that HE is seen in all that I do?  If I’m being honest I think I am more often wrapped up in what others might think of me, my family, my influence, my abilities or my lack of abilities.  With great conviction I must admit that if God were treasured more in my own heart then I would be constant in prayer.

2.  I am too earthly minded.  

Your kingdom come.” (11:2) – Jesus is longing for the Kingdom of God to be totally eclipsing the stained, sin-saturated, and decaying world.  He has eternity in view and His entire perspective is that the kingdom of God is so majestic, pure, holy, and real that He longs for it to advance.  My view is too temporary, minimal, small, and earthly.  If, with consistent admiration and discipline, I were to fix my gaze on what is eternal then I too would beg for my Father’s ways to flood my culture.  Any sadness or sorrow or suffering would be swallowed up by the cry for His kingdom to come.

3.  I am not desperate.

Give us each day our daily bread” (11:3) – This passage combined with illustration in v.5-8 is a reminder that I am to come to God with a desperate expectation for Him to fulfill my need.  Either I am not fully aware just how needy I am or am consistently failing to admit that I need Him to be the one who answers.  Facing the reality that I am way too comfortable with being really comfortable is tough to admit.  In verse 11-13 Jesus reminds us that we are like little children who should be running to our loving Father with our needs and concerns.

4.  A lack of trust or faith in His supremacy or in His goodness.

And lead us not into temptation… ask…seek…knock” (v.11:4,9-10) – He promises that I will be answered, that I will find, and that door will be open to us when I (we) ask, seek, and knock (v.10).  Jesus reminds us that the way out of sin and to avoid temptation is to trust the strength, the provision, and the goodness of our supreme Father.  When I lack the practice of desperate prayer it usually means that I’m distrusting His strength or care to do what He’s said (and proven) He wants to do.  My genuine lack of faith, after all these years, is embarrassing.

5.  I am too prideful and arrogant (the chief reason).

All of these previous reasons flow from this root cause.  It is probably true that I care more about my kingdom, my present world and circumstances, and my comfort and luxury than His fame and renown, His kingdom, His provision and His strength.  Therefore, I don’t run and rely on Him in desperate prayer.  My conversations lack the passion that every father desires to have with his son.  And just like the young man who tries to prove himself to the world, I am often resting in my own self-reliance which is a clear indication of how prideful and arrogant I am.

The truth is that more time in prayer with God would humble me.  It would cause me to treasure Him who is worthy of my awe and sacred speech.  It would create in me a greater hunger for eternal things.  I would be more desperate for Him as I will see just how needy I truly am.  And eventually I would embrace less and less of me and gain more and more joy in Him.

Isn’t it truly a gift to have a Master like King Jesus? To lovingly teach us and show us how to become closer and more connected with our Heavenly Father.  Isn’t it beautiful to know that Jesus provided the “way” for us to have access to the Father and that he did the necessary work to cleanse us so that we can stand before Him?  And it’s so inspiring that he did it all by modeling true humility and love!

The humbling revelation of why I struggle praying is a gift and an invitation.  God knows that there’s nothing sweeter and more satisfying and more freeing and more fueling than bending ourselves to the will of our Father who promises to answer, reveal and open all that we need.  What amazing grace!

Join me in returning, running to our Father in prayer!

Breaking the Seal, Starting the Motion, & Maintaining Momentum

I recently read that a good friend of mine is breaking the seal with some issues in his life.  I applaud his courage and his hope that now things will begin to change.  I was reminded about some obstacles in my life and the significant process that helps maintain momentum. 

I currently weigh more than I should and lack disciplines and the fortitude to radically alter my course.  There’s no momentum.  It’s as if there is a protective seal holding me in place vs. securing me well.  Keeping me in a safe zone vs. a tough adventure.  So, like my friend Howard, I too must break this seal.  I realize that the momentum necessary for true transformation will never take place without a beginning motion.  

As I pray through the first motions that I hope grow to inspiring momentum I have the usual concerns.  First, there are important (and satisfying) demands that come from fatherhood, marriage, and ministry.  Will my new schedule appropriately give me life to maintain those responsibilities or will it wreak havoc that will ultimately kill momentum?

Second, I wonder if I’m ready for what this commitment will expose.  Am I going to be determined enough to slay addictions and submit to the pain that comes from dying to unnecessary things?  

Lastly, and most importantly, will I lose hope?  And then we’re back to that important word – momentum.  I have noticed that people only lose hope when something has wrecked their momentum in life.  Relationships end, family struggles, a shift/change in career, an injury to body or emotions, and so many other life-altering things often stop us in our “race” and kills the momentum.  This is where healthy community is key.  My friend Howard will need that.  I will need that.  We all need that. So, to assist me and help me keep my momentum I have had to entrust myself to some men who care about me and won’t let me lie to them. 

This should be a long adventure.  One that requires me to break the seal, start the motion, and maintain momentum.

 

 

Worship Or Die

This is perhaps the greatest article on the impact of worship that I have ever read.  Matt Papa leads worship at a church but in this article he desires to lead leaders of churches to quit playing games with the significance of worship events.  Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.  It is time we quit minimizing how we introduce others to that truth.

Pastors, Elders, Worship Leaders, church members – read Papa’s blog Worship or Die and pray for one another to look to the One who truly rescues.

Great advice on being critical

I like reading stuff from Pastor J.D. Greear.  This recent blog was particularly helpful to me as a leader and human.  As a leader, I see things critically as I desire to improve things and ask the question “why” throughout my every day.  As a human, well, because I tend to focus on what is NOT happening well or what needs to improve vs. how to actually help something improve (like most humans… be honest).

If you’re like most humans, I encourage you to read his blog APPLE AND THE KIND OF CRITICISM THAT HELPS and let’s ask for God’s help to be positive specific with our criticism.

 

Ten Enemy Attacks on Leaders

I found this article (link below) helpful as I consider how best to watch for ways my weaknesses can be exposed by the enemy.  Here is a practical way to apply this:

  1. Place a number grade by each “strategy” – with 10 being very relevant and 1 not that relevant. (I had three 8’s on my list).
  2. Then go back and place them in order of most common strategy for you to the least common strategy (1- most common, 10- least common).
  3. Then take the top five and present one each to five different people to pray for you concerning this one strategy in your life.  Invite that person to ask or follow up with you at any time as the Spirit leads them.  Important: only give ONE to each person.  I think this would empower the other person to really focus in prayer on this one strategy better.
  4. Don’t become weary in doing good and fight the good fight of faith and never lean on your own understanding in your fight for humble and holy leadership.

Ten Enemy Attacks on Leaders.

Hope this serves you well!

Is it acceptable to pursue rewards from God?

We often feel that expecting God to give us rewards for our behavior is somewhat selfish.  Though I believe we all do struggle with a selfishness that is out of control at times, I believe we can cling to the promises God gives as encouragement.  Read this list of ten promises and may it give you hope that is strong enough to sustain you to serve beyond yourself.  God is with you and promises great joy for you!

 

10 Things Christ Promises to Reward | Unlocking the Bible.