Unfortunately, it’s the latter that often reminds of my prayer life. Most of the time I feel like a failure when it comes to prayer.
Sure, I pray when things aren’t going my way. I bless our food at the table. I even pray with Courtney and Asher on a regular basis.
Where I fall short is in the area of consistency. I’ll go weeks without asking God to move in a situation. I’ll worry myself sick about something instead of praying about it. And when it comes to all the things I’ve intended to pray about — my intentions always outweigh my follow through.
I was reminded of this recently as I silently complained about something that hadn’t turned out like I was hoping it would. In this particular situation, I had done all I could do, but for some reason, God didn’t seem to be cooperating.
I eventually decided to just be honest and I voiced my frustration to God. I wasn’t prepared for His answer, though.
In my frustration, I felt like God was saying: “What took you so long?”
Wow. Why was I surprised that God wasn’t moving in something that I hadn’t invited Him into?
It was a moment of truth for me, and I became determined to fix it. Why did a robust prayer life seem so elusive and impossible? What was the secret to building a better prayer life?
My first few ideas included thoughts of devotionals, prayer journals, and Bible plans. Then I began thinking of all the devotionals, prayer journals, and Bible plans I had left unfinished or untouched.
I felt God cutting through the clutter in my mind to speak clearly to my spirit. It was a simple, straightforward piece of wisdom: “Take it one day at a time.”
Consistency. Such a simple idea. Almost seemed too simple. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s exactly what I needed to do. It’s how growth always works.
Nothing has made me realize the power of consistency more than becoming a parent. You don’t become a consistent, caring parent just by reading a bunch of parenting books. You become a consistent, caring parent by being consistent and caring day after day.
In the same way, you don’t develop a consistent and powerful prayer life by just by reading books on prayer and buying journals. You develop a consistent and powerful prayer life by being committed and consistent in prayer.
There’s no better example of this than the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. In this story, a widow repeatedly approaches an unjust judge with a plea for justice. Even though the judge is unjust, he eventually gives in and grants her what she was asking for.
In verse 7 it says, “…will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?”
Persistence in prayer pays off. We have a God who WANTS to listen. He desires to hear our desires. It’s a gift and one that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
When Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should “pray continually,” it isn’t an exaggerated suggestion; it’s what we should be striving towards.
Personally, I’m tired of wasting opportunities to invite God into my situations. I don’t want to look back at my life and wish I had prayed more. I don’t want to leave my faith on the table or put my belief inside a box. At the end of my life, I want to be able to finish my story by saying “… and all of that would’ve been impossible without God.”
I don’t exactly know how prayer works, but I do know that it works. And like any other discipline, getting started is often the hardest part. Whether it’s lifting weights, learning a new language, or growing in prayer — growth always feels awkward.
If you want to get out of this stage, I’m afraid the only way out is by first being willing to go through it — one day at a time.