I am an introvert. Now, before you label me as lacking confidence or simply being awkward, I would admit that I certainly do have moments of social anxiety and difficulty approaching people. But being an introvert doesn’t mean that I don’t like mingling with people; rather, it means that I enjoy being alone and it takes more time than some people to open up and meaningfully engage with others beyond small talk. Now part of my introversion comes from a mistrust of other people. I believe we all have difficulty trusting other people because that puts us in a vulnerable position in their presence. However, I’ve rarely distrusted myself. I love myself and understand to a great degree who I am, what I want, and how I am going to get it. I would say you are roughly in the same station as me in that you understand more than others what you want and how you will work towards that. In summation, we can agree that thinking about ourselves is not very difficult.
Conversely, what we do find uncomfortable is the thought of entertaining the thoughts, ideas, passions, and will of another Person in our mind- namely through prayer. Prayer puts our needs, wants, volition, and desires at the mercy of a greater Person. This makes us uncomfortable because even as born-again Christians we still have great vestiges of pride, and being in an attitude of prayer forces us to give up that pride in order to experience communion with God. Do you ever notice that your prayer life only appears when you find that you really need God in your life at a particularly difficult moment? As if you’re saying, “Hey God, I’ve got my situation under control for 95% of the time but for the other 5% I’ll let you know if I need you.” As if God is reserved for the moments before tests and you can just box Him away for when you need Him the next time. If I talked to someone to only ask for favors and then ignored them at all other times, you would call me manipulative. I encourage you to revisit prayer as not only a means of sharing your desires and wants with God so that He can satisfy them but also for you to know Christ more deeply and live with the consequences of trusting Christ consistently. When we hear the verse “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17), it is so familiar to us that we write it off. As in yes, that is true but impossible for us to actually implement in our lives. I know many of us struggle with having an active prayer life and don’t get me wrong, I am by no means perfect at this either. Here, I lend you three application points that may help you in your prayer life.
- See if there are barriers to your prayer life. Unconfessed sin is notorious for hindering effective prayer. If you know that your prayer life is superficial and has been struggling for some time, be honest with yourself and see if there is a sin that you need to bring before God. More often than not, sin is festering in your life and there needs a cleansing that will make your communication with Christ far easier.
- If you find prayer difficult to start, try beginning with praise and thanksgiving. Sometimes I am not able to find words to say initially to God. I find that being in a state of gratitude for all God has done for me then, now, and in the future; and even just reflecting on who He is enables me to come into a state of dependence that facilitates the rest of my prayer. If you notice, the verses that sandwich “pray without ceasing” are “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:16-18). So it shouldn’t be a surprise that our prayer life has thanksgiving to God for who He is and what He is done.
- Study scripture and even pray with it to ensure you are within God’s revealed will. We never want to pray with the wrong mindset and certainly do not want to pray for things outside of His will that may have selfish/sinful motives. This is why studying Scripture is so often said to accompany prayer. How can you pray if you do not know who it is you are praying to, and how can you know Him if you do not take time to read His revelation of Himself in His word? In addition to the revelation of God’s will in the Bible, there are numerous powerful examples of what God-honoring prayers look like. Perhaps you could take a look at the prayers of Nehemiah, Jesus, and the early apostles and model your communication with God after theirs. Furthermore, we often forget that the Psalms are a rich collection of heartfelt prayers to God. Do you ever feel happy, broken down, alone, regretful, hopeful, somber, overflowing with joy, angry, quiet, confused, bitter or remorseful? Good, because there is a prayer in the Psalms that you would relate to. I find that praying with the Psalms aligns my will with His will and changes my heart to approach my situation with a Christ-centered perspective.
What I have mentioned above are just a few small tips to aid in starting a more consistent prayer life. There have been stretches of time this past year where I have gone without steady prayer. The Father knows that we will not be perfect in our attempts to converse with Him. But He has promised to help us, giving us His Spirit to guide us when we don’t even have words to express ourselves (Rom 8:26). Friend, if you want to have a more enriching prayer life, there is no better day than to start today.