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Longing for God Longing for God

The Ways We Struggle with Prayer

  • October 2020 Issue

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Have you ever struggled to pray? You aren’t alone.

We asked Today in the Word devotional Bible study readers: What are some ways you struggle or have struggled with prayer? Their responses will reassure you that you aren’t alone if you struggle to pray!

In the Psalms, the biblical authors cry out to God showing all types of emotions. If you too are “Longing for God,” you will find a 30-day Bible study on the Psalms here. In this study, you will learn how to rely on God during times of suffering or distress, praise God in the midst of unanswered prayer, embrace the hope we have in Jesus our Messiah, and express thanks and praise for all God has done

Here’s what readers said are their most common problems in regards to prayer.

  1. Keeping our focus. For Kevin, his problem with prayer is a struggle to maintain focus: “Our Father, who are in Heaven (oh, I wonder what’s for breakfast? I’m hungry for waffles), Hallowed by Thy Name (ooh, I’m celebrating my wife’s birthday soon, what should I get her?) ... and so on! Thank You, Father, for Your patience!
  2. Avoiding distractions. Mary says her environment can prevent her from staying focused in prayer: “I do better when l am away from the house: vacation, resting at our cabin, etc. At home I find myself losing focus, interrupted by things l MUST do, or at least think l must do. I often realize the valleys are when my total focus is on HIM. Then l long to leave my house to spend more time with HIM. Think l would learn to spend more time with Him, might have fewer valleys. But my heart is with Him daily, thanking Him often, throughout the day.”
  3. Staying consistent. Julie said she struggles with the discipline needed to spend regular time in prayer. Don agrees that his prayer life ebbs and flows: “Personally I go through phases. My prayer life can be incredibly wonderful for days, weeks, months, but then slowly seems to become difficult. I sometimes feel as if I’m being repetitive, praying about the same things often. And there are times when my sinful lack of patience gets the best of me.”
  4. Feeling disconnected. John says he sometimes struggles to sense God’s presence. “One of the biggest challenges is the difficulty I have in sensing God's presence or His response. I don't like talking on the phone because I can't see the visible reaction of the person on the other end of the conversation. Same with texting. In some ways, prayer seems even worse. Most of the time when I pray it feels like I am speaking into silence.” 

What can help you stay focused and connected to God in prayer?

Donna finds help by “praying His Word and promises back to Him in my prayers.” She also says that simply being still and physically stopping her activity brings richness to her prayer life. “I recently began reading Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer and just learned I also need to be STILL. After I'm done talking to God, in order to hear God's voice speaking to me, I need to quiet my mind.”

Judy uses creative ways to refocus on prayer. She says, “I have lots of health issues & have constant pain which causes me not to want to pray. I feel irritated & not worthy sometimes. However, listening to praise music helps me & reading the word out loud to myself. Listening to the Bible on CD & singing along with praise music on CD & radio focuses my mind on God.

We hope you are encouraged by these recommendations and words of encouragement about prayer from fellow believers.

The struggle to pray is real for many of us. There are many ways to overcome this problem. One of them is to set aside regular time to spend in God’s presence. A free resource available to you is “Longing for God,” a study of Psalms, published by Moody’s Today in the Word devotional.

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