struggling (2)


All prayer is not a struggle, but some of the best prayer is like Jacob wrestling with the Lord.

There are several reasons we must struggle in prayer. They are diverse enough that they could not be covered thoroughly in a single blog entry. I will pray about writing a series of blogs on this important subject. But for now I want to overview the issue.

We need to struggle in prayer because of the condition of the fallen world where God has assigned us to minister. In Joel's powerful call to prayer we read,

"Gird yourselves and lament, you priests;

Wail, you who minister before the altar;

Come, lie all night in sackcloth,

You who minister to my God;

For the grain offering and the drink offering

Are withheld from the house of your God.


We need to struggle in prayer over the condition of our country, our city, sometimes our churches. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Have you wept in prayer over someone you love who is rejecting Christ. Have you fasted before God because of things were terribly out of His will?

We sometimes need to struggle to discern God’s will. Have you prayerfully poured yourself out over scripture and circumstances to clearly hear God’s voice?

I also have to struggle over my will. In a sense this is struggling over the will of God. Only saying it that way sounds like God is the enemy. But as a child of God, He is no longer the enemy. He is on my side against the selfishness and foolishness of my sinful nature.

It is almost blasphemous to compare my struggles with that of Jesus in the garden before the cross. But He showed us the right attitude of prayer. Even as Jesus was asking if there were any way "the cup" could pass from Him, He surrendered to His Father’s will. And after He had spent time in the presence of God, Jesus made peace with God's will even though it would cost Him everything. The struggles God leads you through are never so difficult or so crucial. But they are important. And they are a necessary part of spiritual growth.

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Have you considered determining some things to commit to pray for all year? I have written in earlier blogs about committing to long term prayers. Doing this helps us get our spiritual teeth into more consequential matters. This kind of praying excludes the trivial. You will not be tempted at the beginning of a year to pray for a better parking place at the donut shop. You will have to think about, possibly struggle in prayer to determine yearlong prayers. You may even find yourself praying for things that will cause you pain.

I recently heard a sermon by Tim Keller on Romans 8:28. He emphasized the fact that this verse does not promise that the lives of believers will be easier or better than that of those who do not love God. This verse cannot be severed from verse 29 which says God will use hard things to make us like Jesus.

As I looked at the passage I realized that we also cannot separate these verses from verses 26 and 27 which begin by saying we don’t know what to pray for as we ought. I thank God that this verse assures us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. He intercedes for me rather than God answering foolish, selfish and sinful prayers I sometimes pray. I am not alone in such foolishness. Elijah prayed for God to take his life. But God interceded by explaining His will to the prophet. In the same way the Holy Spirit brings us into His intercession. As we grow in the Lord we come to understand how He wants us to pray even when what we are to pray for will be difficult or painful. The angel told Ananias that God was going to show Paul how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus.

I am praying for God’s Spirit to show me what He is doing and how I am to pray for His perfecting work in my life. He has already promised that the joy will be worth the sacrifice. 


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