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What to Do When We Are Prayerless

On one occasion, my little girl drove me to tears.

She opened her arms the moment she saw me walk into the bedroom. There was no doubt in her mind that her father was going to receive her. She knew that I loved her and was full of joy to see her.

Do you remember a time when all you wanted to do was to pray and spend time with God?  You knew that He would acknowledge you and your greatest desire was to just be before Him? What has changed since?

We know how crucial prayer is in the Christian walk. To be a Christian without praying is akin to be a human without breathing—we’re as good as dead. Prayer is about connecting with God and loving Him. It is about being God-centered, learning to look at life from God’s perspective, and finding out what He wants.

Maybe you’re struggling to pray today. You feel like God does not care enough to listen. I can recall a time in my spiritual journey when I too struggled to pray. My heart was heavy and it almost felt unbearable. My prayers felt as though they were not heard and I was attacked from the evil one from every side. My desire to pray dwindled as I wandered in the spiritual desert of isolation. I began to question: Does God really listen to my prayers? Does he really hear me when I cry out to him?

Through that season, these three reminders spoke to me:

 

1. Forget your insecurities, remember His love

Ask yourself honestly. Why are you not coming to God? Is it because you feel too sinful for Him? That you’re not enough for Him?

Often, I look at myself and wonder why God would want Jonathan Hayashi’s love. Why would He want to bother with a worthless being like me compared to great men-of-faith like Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, or Jonathan Edwards?

When we make prayer all about us, focusing on our inadequacies or insecurities, instead of Him, that’s where the problem arises.

Combat your insecurities with truths from the Bible; don’t let Satan tell you that you are too sinful to come to Him. When we became God’s children, our sins were taken care of. When Jesus said “It is finished” on the cross (John 19:30), it was a done deal. He made it possible for us to have a restored relationship with Him and He wants to have a relationship with us.

 

2. Pray even when you don’t feel like praying

I know how counter-intuitive it sounds. However, I have learned over the past few years that the best way to ignite my dullest moments is to simply obey in faith. I come to God in prayer, trusting and believing in Him more than I believe in my own feelings.

When I was a new believer, I would lock myself in a closet, desperate to feel the presence of God. I prayed for the Lord to come and reveal Himself to me. And in the quietness of the silence, I experienced the presence and the joy of God.

If you feel like you don’t have the words to say to Him, take heart in the fact that the Spirit intercedes for us. We just need to come to Him. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26). John Bunyan, a puritan preacher and author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, said it well, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

 

3. Read and pray from the Scriptures

The Word of God is living and abiding and can give us words to pray when we don’t have the words to say. The Scriptures, isn’t just for teaching and correcting us. We can find comfort in His promises and use the Psalms to cry out to Him. Psalm 86 begins with a plea for God to hear David.

I recall a time a few years ago when I was struggling with sin. As I mourned over all the ways I had failed and fallen short of His glory, I felt like God couldn’t accept me and I wasn’t able to come to Him because of what I’d done. Yet, I longed to be pleasing to Christ and be a blessing unto Him.

Then I stumbled over these words in the Scriptures, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The verse blessed me, reminding me that He accepts and takes delight in our prayer of repentance.

Ultimately, prayer is not about mastering the mechanics of how to come to God, or reciting poetic literature, or bringing a shopping list to Jesus. Prayer is communion with God.

Satan hates prayer because it is the most important thing you can do in your life. Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint on his knees before God. Don’t be dismayed (Isaiah 41:10) and don’t give up on praying (Luke 18:1).

Have a little talk with Jesus today. Have a honest conversation with Him. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.”

4 Struggles We Face in Ministry

Serving people can be hard work, whether in or out of the church.

In church, I am thankful for the support I get from family and friends as I serve, but there are still many moments when I feel discouraged and insufficient to continue what I set out to do—and it’s usually because of people. In those moments, I try to comfort myself by saying: “If it is not hard, then it is not ministry.”

But I also believe that God wants to teach me through my struggles.

1. People are uninterested

Are you leading a cell group, trying to organize an event or planning an outreach, and find your group members or co-leaders showing disinterest? Sometimes, I feel most unappreciated and resentful towards people for not putting in as much effort and not supporting me as much as I think they should.

But God has reminded me to take a step back, in order not to completely miss the point of ministry—that it is about people, not about my programs and my plans. Ministry is about helping people grow in their faith and love of Christ, and about caring for their needs.

So I am learning to care for people instead of programs, by being interested in their lives and the problems they are facing. I am also learning to be open to feedback, and to organize events or cell meetings that can meet their needs.

2. People are discouraging

Sometimes, we get disheartening response to our service, or feedback from leaders that seems harsh or unfair. At other times, our peers may just seem critical or plain unhelpful. When that happens, I can feel the seed of discontentment growing into bitterness and making me harbor grudges against them.

But God has taught me to show grace—to my leaders, peers, and juniors. And I have found that those whom I had been disappointed in, turned out to have a story behind them that explained their actions. Once, I felt extremely ashamed of myself when a co-worker—who I thought was just being sluggish—told us that his non-believing parents had been deterring him from being active in church. I realized that I had been unfair and too quick to judge his attitude, and that my own attitude towards him might have even discouraged him further.

Unless I have tried to step into the shoes of another, I will not know how much they are struggling, fighting, and striving to love God. So I am learning to show grace to others, just as Christ has shown grace to me.

3. People are different

Are you facing differences in doctrinal beliefs, convictions, or ministry focus among fellow believers? Do you find these differences causing rifts and misunderstandings that slow down progress in your ministry and affect your “efficiency”?

Perhaps this is the wrong way to think. I’ve learned to see that differences in opinion can in fact broaden and enrich my perspective—if only I lay aside my pride. I tend to get impatient with people who seem to be overly excited about things like spiritual gifts, but a friend hit the nail on the head one day when she told me, “You’re never going to understand if you’re always going to judge them first!”

Her words hit me hard: they reminded me about the judgmental attitude I had been holding against people whose ideas did not seem to align with mine. I am thankful for friends and co-workers who constantly step in to help me see things in a different light.

4. People judge us by our service

Am I serving too much or too little? Am I overbearing or being a pushover? All these thoughts run through my mind every time I try to do something. I know that keeping my focus on Christ is more important, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about these things and looking at my shortcomings.

I used to judge the effectiveness of my ministry by the number of people who turned up for fellowship, events, or anything that I planned, and felt discouraged whenever the response was low or people were tardy. But I have learned to remind myself that other people’s judgment of my event is not a judgment of my character or person, and that a poor response is not the result of my lack of faith or effectiveness. After God brought about this change in me, I was able to rejoice in serving even when attendance was dismal. Serving became a lot easier and happier when I stopped worrying about what people thought of me.

 

It is normal to feel disheartened by ministry; no one is immune to it. But these places of discouragement may be where God is pushing us to rely on Him more. God does not need us to help Him do His work, but it pleases Him when we rely on Him when we minister to others. God is far more interested in who we are, than what we do for Him.

5 WAYS TO DEAL WITH A GIANT

1. Sleep On It

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We all face problems, big and small. Sometimes we sleep on them and hope they will vanish by the time we wake up. This may work, but sometimes the giant grows overnight, and we wake up to a colossal monster even more grotesque than the one we faced the night before. How many times have you slept on a problem? Did it work?

2. Pretend it doesn’t exist

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Instead of facing up to a problem, we may find other things to do to distract ourselves from the issue at hand. These distractions could provide temporary relief, but they don’t deal with the problem. The giant is still there; we just choose not to acknowledge its existence. Has this ever been a problem for you? Has it ever caused further problems for you down the road?

3. Take Control

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This is by far the most logical thing to do when you have a problem: Do something about it. Right? After all, we just can’t sit around or bury our heads in the sand—the problem won’t go away by itself. But what if the giant is beyond our control? What should we do when nothing we try solves the problem?

4. Move Elsewhere

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Pack up and relocate. That’s what we do sometimes, especially when we want to avoid facing our problems physically. A useful measure—but alas, we don’t always have that luxury of finances. Imagine if the giant moves with you. What’s next? Has that ever happened to you?

5. Run Away

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Sometimes, running away seems to be the best way to deal with a giant—both in the literal and metaphorical sense. The bigger and the more urgent the problem, the faster and farther we try to run. But it doesn’t always work. Inevitably, the giant comes back to haunt us, plague our hearts and torment our minds. We find that the problem is just too big to escape. Have you ever felt that way?

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: No matter where we turn to or what we try to do, let’s face it—most of the times, our problems will still be there at the end of the day.

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences with the giants in your life. Do share your comments below.

Do also look out for the article 5 Ways to Run From a Problem“, which will be out tomorrow.

 

Why are there giants in our lives?

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