If you pray well, don’t read this. Instead, write your own blog post to give the rest of us some pointers.

One day a friend asked me, “Are you a prayer warrior?”

“Not really,” I said. “I struggle with that.”

He seemed surprised. My friend had made an incorrect assumption about me, and it might be easy to see why. Everyone knows I believe in Jesus. I’m vocal about spiritual matters. I’m passionate about the Bible and I really like going to my church. I can’t imagine life without Jesus. But prayer . . . well, there’s that.

I have my reasons. Perhaps you can relate. We’re busy, right? We get a lot done, and hey, it’s for the Lord! It’s not like we’re avoiding God; we just don’t make time to talk to Him. Because, you know, we’re busy.

I might as well face it; I need to work on my prayer life.

As a kid, “Pray without ceasing” was the easiest Bible verse for me to memorize next to “Jesus wept.” Three simple words, but what an intimidating concept! I recall thinking, Pray all the time? Are you kidding me? I can’t do that. How would I get anything else done?

I had visions of stern-looking monks suffering deprivation in remote desert caves as they dined on lizards and ants and spoke with God 24/7. Or think of grizzled old men perpetually on their knees beside their beds, never looking up, never eating, never having a life.

Those are terrible images of prayer. Let’s look at it from another angle.

I have a truck-driving cousin who casually talks to God all day long. It’s as natural as breathing for him. “Okay, Lord,” he’ll say out loud. “Between you and me we ought to be able to get this bolt loose.” I’m pretty sure he could do it in his sleep without any break-free, but he invokes God’s help anyway.

Or he’ll say, “Thanks, Lord, for all this gorgeous snow. Your world is amazing!” Then he’ll laugh as he says, “Of course we’re trusting you to keep us safe in all of this too.” He sounds as though he’s thoroughly enjoying his relationship with God. Because he is. And he is one of the most peaceful, joyful people I know. He’s easy to be around.

My cousin teaches me not to make prayer harder than it is. Taken in small bites, “Pray without ceasing” becomes easy. Simply invite God into every moment. He’s there anyway.

Jesus, of course, showed us another aspect of prayer. He took it to a substantially higher level, getting away for long, extended conversations with His Father. That might intimidate me too. Except that Jesus taught us a little bit more about that.

In the hours before Jesus endured the greatest trial anyone has ever faced, he told his friends about his relationship with God the Father. “I will ask the Father,” he told them, “and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth” (John 14:16–17). He added this encouragement: “I will not leave you as orphans” (v. 18).

And on that last night before his crucifixion, Jesus included you and me when he prayed this: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message” (17:20).

Having invited us to enjoy family relationship with his Father, Jesus prayed for our unity among each other. “I pray that they will be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (17:21).

Jesus prayed for us—the ones who would yet believe in him. He let us glimpse the relationship he had with his Father, and he invites us to that same level of intimacy.

In the seventeenth century a young wounded soldier left the French military, kicked around for a bit as the employee of a well-connected government official, and eventually decided to join a monastery. His physical challenges could have limited his contributions to the monastery, and to the world at large, but they only served to enhance his gifts. His God-centered outlook on life made all the difference. As his struggles made him increasingly dependent on God, that humble monk’s influence grew. Today we know Brother Lawrence for his landmark book The Practice of the Presence of God.

Brother Lawrence’s life showed how to maintain an awareness of God’s presence at all times. As we establish that habit, prayer becomes woven into the fabric of our lives. Our focus starts to resemble my cousin’s untroubled outlook on life. We grow more like Jesus. God gets invited into everything. We can go fishing and pray. We can drive in rush hour and pray, or take a serene walk through the woods, all the while just chatting with God. That’s how we pray without ceasing.

The point is this: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t pray for long periods of time. But pray! God created us with different work styles and personalities, work demands and attention spans (speaking for myself, guilty as charged!). We can use those diverse styles and personalities to honor God by giving them to Him, flaws and all.

Prayer is the one area where we can grow stronger as everything else becomes weaker. In fact, as other skills and abilities diminish or are taken from us, our prayer-warrior skills get sharpened. Never underestimate that. As Haddon Robinson says, “Prayer is the work.” We tend to miss that.

—Tim Gustafson

To read more about learning to pray visit https://discoveryseries.org/courses/teach-us-to-pray/

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