What to do when we have problems with prayer

Elisa Morgan is one of the most passionate, authentic communicators I have ever known. She speaks out of the deepest, most honest places of the soul – and my soul is always the richer – and moved closer to Jesus – for the listening. In our time of prayer, it’s easy sometimes struggle with words. With feelings. With our heart of hearts and how to let God in. Even though we know He already knows everything we’ve ever thought or felt. Elisa has found a way into a weary prayer world and has oh-so-gently tucked many against her being to hold them there just long enough to help to  find the courage to try again. Read on friend. And find hope for your prayer problems. It’s a grace to welcome Elisa to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Elisa Morgan

We are a praying people. We can hardly help ourselves.

In a pinch when we need help. Under our breath in a moment of frustration. For loved ones so in need of hope and help. Over our troubled world. After a stunningly happy surprise.

We pray.

And yet, we can find prayer baffling.

Our tongues grow heavy. Sometimes prayer is just plain scary—after all, what do we say to the God of the universe?

At other times, prayer can be unsatisfying. We wonder: Is God listening? Will He answer? Why is He taking so long? Why do we feel so cut off from Him? What if we’re praying in the wrong way

In Luke 18:1, Jesus “told his disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and never give up.” We ratchet up our efforts with consistency and sincerity. Sometimes we see results. Sometimes we don’t.

What’s going on here?

I send commands to my being to express my desires to God and my yieldedness to his will but my then mouth won’t move. James writes of the trouble such a condition can bring, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

Maybe I’m a doubter, “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). James goes on to say that such a person “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (verse 7).

Or maybe I’m too selfish to experience God’s response to my prayers as James, again, warns, “When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

Oh my . . . what to do? Pray more?

Joy Prouty

I wonder if there isn’t a deeper, more core issue at work here. Nestling down to consider my prayer problems more intentionally,

I find myself conflicted in prayer. Pulled in the two directions of what I want and what I think God wants. My will versus His will.

On the one hand, I long to be honest—gut-wrenchingly raw—in blurting out my needs and desires before God and begging Him to meet them.

Every single one of them.

But do I dare? Will He hear? Does He care? Will He act? What if He doesn’t? Hear. Care. Act. Unsure, I hedge honest and dress it up as respectful requests. One inch deep.

On the other hand, I yearn for the courage to abandon my desires in surrender to God’s best in all things.

But, oh my, what all might “God’s best” include? What might He allow? In my life or in the lives of those I love? Uncertain, I wince a compromised yielding.

You relate, don’t you?

Help has come to me from an unexpected source. In the deepest hours of Jesus’ life on this planet, a two-sided coin of prayer was forged. In the crucible of the garden of Gethsemane, pressed between what he wanted and what the Father wanted, Jesus prayed “Take this cup,” and then, “Not my will.”

Two sides of Jesus. Two sides of us. Two sides of prayer.

What might I discover about Jesus, God the Father, and myself if I pendulum-swing my prayers between the two sides of the coin? 

What if I teeter-totter my utterances between what I want and what God wants? What if you do?

Pause with me, and let the concept sink in.

What, really, is the state of Take This Cup? Perhaps a state of “honest”?

An unapologetic verbalization of what is truly within? And what, really, is the condition of Not My Will?

I mull over my personal language. Surrender. Yieldedness. Relinquishment.

Another word has the stickiness needed to stay. A startling word at first (is it even the proper part of speech?), yet here is a word that sums up the surprise necessary to grab my heart: abandon.

Not as in being abandoned by another. No, abandon as in giving oneself completely over to something. To Someone.

Take This Cup: honest.

Not My Will: abandon.

Two sides of prayer.

The Prayer Coin.

What if this two-sided prayer coin—daring to pray with honest abandon—could solve my problems with prayer?

Take me into the kind of oneness Jesus experienced with His Father? The very intimacy God designed me to enjoy?

So I began a new prayer effort—this prayer coin practice. A “prayer dare” of sorts. An intentional focus on praying the two sides of prayer, as Jesus did in the garden.

Honest and abandon.

For the issues of prayer that flow from my heart. Some for me. Many for others.

My prayer today is that you, too, will open your heart to the prayer coin concept.

That as you express your honest Take This Cup moments to God, you’ll find him pivoting your desires in abandon to Not My Will—and that in the process, you will discover an intimacy that crashes you through to a more satisfying relationship with Him.

The place Jesus came to lead us into.

Okay . . . here we go. Up it flies—the prayer coin—into the air of discovery.

Down it comes.

Time for you to make the call.

What’s it going to be? Honest or abandon? Or . . . both?

 

Elisa Morgan was named by Christianity Today as one of the top fifty women influencing today’s church and culture and is one of today’s most sought-after authors, speakers, and leaders. For twenty years, Elisa Morgan served as CEO of MOPS International. Elisa received a BS from the University of Texas and an MDiv from Denver Seminary where she now serves on the board. As co-host of the syndicated radio program Discover the Word, Elisa offers a daily fifteen-minute real-time conversation around the written and living Word of God. She also writes regularly for the Our Daily Bread Devotional. She has authored over twenty-five books including The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could

In her newest release, The Prayer Coin: Daring to Pray with Honest Abandon, Elisa birthed the “prayer coin” idea as she was struggling in her own prayer life. Should she be blatantly honest about her desires or just leave everything to God and let him lead? An epiphany came when Elisa noticed how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus Christ begged for relief from the trial he faced, while utterly complying with what he knew the Father’s will to be. Honesty and abandon—in the same breath.
Elisa discovered that Jesus invites us to do both. And the emotional back-and-forth, between full-out honesty and “giving it up” in abandon, actually drew her closer to God. If Jesus—our Savior, Mentor, and Friend—could pray both sides of the prayer coin, could we as well?

Elisa Morgan is one of the most passionate, authentic communicators I have ever known. She speaks out of the deepest, most honest places of the soul—and my soul is always the richer—and moved closer to Jesus—for the listening. These are pages I have longed to read.

[ Our humble thanks to Discovery House for their partnership with today’s devotion ]

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