Choose To Pray & GraceFull Tuesday Link-Up

Choose to pray

Happy Tuesday! It has been a while since I have been here in this space, and I am truly sorry about that. There has been many changes to life lately, all these calling for my time and attention.

However, I am here again and this time I am coming to you with a series on prayer, like I promised. And the first thing we are going to look at is struggling with prayer and choosing to pray.

If you are here only for the link-up, just scroll down. Have a blessed day!

Struggling with Prayer

If there is one thing I struggle with in my walk with the Lord, it is prayer. I have my routines for Bible reading (always with my breakfast). I love going to church so that one is easy. But prayer? That one I struggle with, and I have struggled for many years now.

The other morning, I was thinking about prayer. How I know I need to pray more, and the shame that lingers over the days I don’t pray as much as I think I should. But honestly, the struggle to get to the point of praying tends to be quite a big one for me. It is so much easier to just close my Bible and move on with my day. Or to take my phone and browse something for a few minutes. Even when I feel the Lord prompting my heart to pray.

So I knew God was speaking to me when I read these words in my devotions the other morning. There, Oswald Chambers writes,

Prayer is an effort of will. After we have entered our secret place and have shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray; we cannot get our minds into working order, and the first thing that conflicts is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on wilful prayer.”

This, I recognize, is my battle: mental wool-gathering. There are a thousand things on my mind, and I know I need to pray. But my thoughts wander and the space for praying seems to disappear quickly. Then shame takes over, those relentless whispers that turn my mind into a battleground. I give up before I even began.

Choose to Pray

Lately I am realizing the struggles of being a human. I am a saint; but not an extraordinary one. I am a saint; but I am also a human. So I struggle because that is what we humans do. My selfish nature and sinful flesh do not help here. But in the end, this just reminds me that I am human and only God is God.

But like with all other battles, this can be turned into a lesson of discipline. As saints, we are disciples of Jesus (and, of course, His friends as well). Discipline isn’t easy; but it is possible. We need to discipline our minds to take all the thoughts captive. To establish a habit of prayer, and then concentrating on that with all the strength that we have.

Some days, I confess, that is not a lot of strength. But those days even the short moments, the short prayers will do. It is better than doing nothing, after all.

So in the end, it is a matter of actually choosing to pray. To take the time, whether one minute, five minutes or even twenty minutes — and committing that time to prayer. On the days when my thoughts wander and time slips through my hands, I extend grace to myself. And I ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. On the days when I actually can focus longer, I raise my prayers to heaven with thanksgiving. It is His grace, after all.

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18 Comments

  1. I was just reading yesterday Paul’s words in Philippians: he calls them saints, but he knows they are not perfect. We are simply set apart for holiness–and part of that is prayer.
    For me, prayer is the most difficult of the spiritual disciplines and it takes a lot of effort to keep my mind focused. I had thought that as I got older it would be easier, but, unfortunately, that has not been the case. The important thing is to SHOW UP, to be with him as he is with me.

    1. Michele, that’s such a comfort to me to hear that I’m not the only one struggling in this! But I love what you said: that the important thing is to show up. That applies to so many areas of life and to prayer as well. Thank you for visiting here today, Michele!

  2. I struggle with making space for prayer, too. Instead of trying to make it what I think it should be I am learning to “Just Do It.” It’s not always the best timing or perfect, but it does make it happen.

    1. That’s just it, isn’t it? It doesn’t need to be perfect or the best but just doing it and actually choosing to pray is so important. Thanks for visiting here today!

  3. I love the Oswald Chambers quote, Ronja. I also struggle with “mental wool gathering”. I think, just like in meditation, clear headedness comes with practice and devotion. I think it’s appropriate here to “fake it until you make it”.

  4. Love the Oswald Chambers thoughts about prayer you quoted. And I think most believers struggle with prayer. Foremost, the enemy doesn’t want us to pray because he knows how much power it holds. Some or most of that mental wood-gathering is his tactic. Also, prayer takes so much intentionality and effort and energy. The distractions often win out. So I like how you ended by saying we “choose” to pray. Having a prayer journal (with a calendar included) has really helped me in my prayer time.

    1. Having a prayer journal is a great idea, Karen! I know a prayer journal has helped quite a few of my friends as well! For me, I usually struggle to journal every day but I’m hoping to add that to my routine so then maybe it will help me with prayer as well. Thank you for visiting here today!

    1. I love how God really is so kind to us that He will speak to us and remind us in many ways and so many times to make sure that we heard Him. I’m glad He used this one to speak to you today, Aryn! God bless you!

  5. Prayer is a battleground. It’s an area of continual struggle for me, as well. I love to pray. I never regret doing it. But even after 4 decades of learning to pray, I still have so much more to learn. I read a blog post sometime within the last year about using “triggers” to pray. Some people have suggested things like mealtimes, while you’re in the shower or brushing your teeth, etc. But this post suggested triggers like when you’re overwhelmed, discouraged, anxious, or grateful. Share it all with God! I loved that idea. The most encouraging thing in all my “prayer failures” is that God is ALWAYS there, waiting to commune with me when I return my attention to Him – no matter what. He is gracious.

    1. Jana, that’s a great way of thinking about the situations in when to pray. I know I pray often during the shower and use all those as triggers but yeah, just feelings are good triggers as well!

  6. I struggle with prayer too! Why is it so easy to ignore the simplest request/nudging from the Lord? I ask myself this often, I am getting better, although it is not what I call easy yet…I have hope. The thing is that I love the time I spend in prayer, so why would I not run to it often. Our enemy is good at what he does. We just have to get better at defeating him. Great Post Many Thanks 8)

    1. Those are just the same questions going through my mind! But really, just like you said, the enemy is good at what he does and we need to recognize this is what he is doing. God bless you!

  7. I am with you in the struggle. Thank you for being vulnerable in it. I have so many loved ones right now with burdens that I am getting better at it. Praying not to loose the fervor when the crises are past. laurensparks.net

    1. The Lord really is so kind to us to give us so many chances every day and things to pray about — and the desire to pray! Thanks for visiting here, Lauren! God bless you

  8. I have found over the years Ronja that Prayer is just a chat with God, which we can do anywhere, anyplace, anytime in any situation. It’s the conversations of prayer that require more time.

    But if we practice the chats we start to really yearn for & desire the conversations with Him like Mary did with sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha was concentrating on everything else 😉 Making that time becomes so much easier & such a time of blessing.
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    1. That’s a great way of looking at prayer, Jennifer! I really like that. And it gives such hope to think that choosing to pray, like with anything else, can become easier over time. Thanks for visiting here once again, Jennifer! God bless you

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