Prayer is for the Desperate, Not the Disciplined

Prayer is for the Desperate, Not the Disciplined

Article by Brian Hughes
If we were to poll our church body on what Spiritual practice they wish they were “better at,” I’m willing to put my money on that practice being prayer. I’ve never met a single Christian, regardless of their maturity, who would say that prayer was a practice they were great at and had no room to grow in. Yet, prayer is drastically instrumental to our formation to Jesus.

Each month we focus on one of the practices of the Trellis, and prayer happens to be our practice for March. And our hope for this month is for each of us to be better equipped and empowered to pray. To pour gasoline on the flame that is our prayer life in such a way that our Church body is changed moving forward.

So, I ask the question, why is prayer often a practice that is lacking in our formation to Jesus?

We all can agree that it’s not just important but necessary for a healthy and holistic discipleship to Jesus. We know that Jesus himself called his Church a “house of prayer” (Matt. 21:13). We know that Jesus was known to wake up early in the morning to go to “desolate” places to pray and commune with His Father (Luke 5:16). We know that Jesus’ disciples, out of everything they saw Jesus say and do, asked for Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1).

So, why is this such a difficult practice for us?

Because I believe, myself included here, that we fail to understand that prayer isn’t just for the disciplined but for the desperate.

We live in the most individualized, self-sufficient cultures in the history of human civilization. We have been discipled, formed by our culture, not to depend on anyone but ourselves. To “tie ourselves up by our bootstraps and get to work.” And prayer quickly orients us to the truth that we are desperate, needy people. Which our flesh wants to fight against.

In his book A Praying Life, Paul Miller says maybe one of the reasons we don’t pray is that “you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life to overcome.”
So, I’ll say it again. Prayer is for the desperate.

Those men and women in your life that you look up to as prayer warriors are where they are in this practice, not because they are more disciplined than you, but because they understand their need for God to show up and move for what they cry out for.

Are you longing for a deeper formation to Jesus? And you recognize that you have zero power in and of yourself to make that happen. Cry out to Jesus in desperation.

Do you have a friend who doesn’t know Jesus, and your heart breaks for them? Even after many conversations, they still seem to not yet understand their need for Jesus. Cry out to Jesus on their behalf in desperation.

Do you know someone in a battle with cancer or another health complication, and doctors cannot seem to help the situation? Cry out to Jesus, our great healer, in desperation.

Is your marriage struggling? Needing a miracle for restoration to happen? Cry out to Jesus in desperation.

Have an ongoing battle with sin that you just can’t seem to defeat? Believe the Gospel of grace and cry out to Jesus in desperation.

Only when we give up the phony notion that we are capable, powerful, sufficient beings can we begin to see change in our prayer lives.

The good news is that our God is eager to grant power to those who boldly approach his throne in desperation. He is truly capable. He is truly all-powerful. He is truly the only self-sufficient being. Now that is good news for us when we pray as those who believe it.

“I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore, I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2).

My only encouragement for those of us longing to grow in the practice of prayer is this: get desperate.


Pastor of CollegeLife
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