The Difficulty of Prayer

May 19, 2020

 Matthew 6:9–10

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 This Morning we are looking at two verses.  Jesus is teaching us the difficulty of prayer when he says, “This, then, is how you should pray …” Jesus believed it was necessary to teach us. The first lesson to being a good pray-er, to learning the secrets of prayer, is to know that it’s hard, to know that it takes learning. One of the worst things you can possibly do is to walk into the Christian life thinking prayer is easy, thinking prayer is natural. It’s natural in the sense that we’re built for it, but it is not easy.

 Prayer takes learning. That’s the first thing Jesus teaches you. When he starts to teach you, he’s telling us something that’s so obvious we’re going to miss it. Prayer takes learning.

 I also happen to know that it’s harder to pray for 30 minutes than it is to preach for 30 minutes.

 It’s much harder. Are you surprised at that? Much harder. Listen, I’ve had some bad sermons. Some of you may have heard them. You know, I can ramble. I can sort of forget where I’m going. I can sort of lose my place and kind of go off and … I’ve had some bad sermons but never have they been so bad that I forgot that I was preaching. I mean, I’ve gotten off the subject and I’ve rambled and all that, but I’ve never gotten so bad that I was going along and I suddenly say, “Oh, wait. Oh, I’m preaching. There’s a congregation out there.” That’s never happened to me.

 But I can’t tell you many times when I have been on my knees before the King of the universe and I forget that I’m praying. I don’t know if that’s ever happened to you. Listen. Prayer is harder than preaching. Prayer is tough. You try to focus on the loving King of the universe for 30 minutes and you will find how weak you are.

 John Newton, the great hymn writer, says that when he is trying to pray, just trying as hard as he can to concentrate and pray, he feels so weak he says sometimes “the buzzing of a fly in the room is an overmatch for [my strength].” It’s destroyed me! Here I am in front of the King of the universe and this mosquito is killing it. I can’t pray. I can’t think. I can’t concentrate. Prayer is hard. The reason it’s hard is because prayer is a personal thing. There is nothing magical about it.

 When you get together with a friend, the conversation just goes smoothly. You’re so happy to see them and the conversation is natural, and the love flows, the words flow, and the concepts flow. That’s what it means to be a good pray-er. All I’m telling you is this. How much time do you put into it? Do you put in at least, every day, a good chunk of time? Don’t you see how it’s more important than your exercise? It’s more important than your workout. It’s more important than your meditation. It’s more important than your counseling.

 It’s more important than anything else. I’d like us to go to Jesus and say, “I’ve been a fool. I haven’t really enrolled in your school. I’ve been frustrated because my prayer life just hasn’t taken off, but I haven’t spent the time.”

 I challenge you to pray for 20 minutes or 30 minutes a day and not miss a day just for three weeks and you see what happens to you. See. The first thing Jesus says is you don’t know that prayer is difficult, but it’s a profound thing, a deep adventure you never get to the bottom of.


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