Do your prayers ever sound like a broken record? Do you feel like you are constantly having the same struggles with your job, your family, or your spiritual walk? Does it seem like you could just record your prayers in a voice recorder and play them back in an endless autoloop?
Recently, I heard from a reader and his story struck a chord with me. I think it hit home because I believe every man feels some of these feelings regularly.
“I know what I should be doing. I want to be around other Christian guys. I need to experience the iron sharpening iron effect of the interactions of Godly men, but I cannot relate to the other guys at church who have great jobs, great families, and aren’t struggling everyday like I am. I have a difficult time with my prayer life. I find it hard to put much trust in prayer when my life continues to be an uphill climb. When I do pray I have a difficult time thinking of the right things to say. If I do go to church I feel embarrassed to ask for prayers for my problems. I could always use the prayers for my situation, but one week’s prayer would be the same the next time I would go. Maybe the other men are just more Godly than I, but they do not seem to be facing the same troubles that I do week in and week out. I continue to tell people about Jesus and his salvation, but if people knew my failure as a man they would not want to become a Christian.”
Men, in general, struggle with prayer. It is easy in a group session to come up with a great prayer list of people we know who are sick, in the hospital, or who have a lost a loved one, but are we willing to be open enough to ask for prayer for our own issues? Chances are our pride will take over and our need may quickly become an unspoken “unspoken” request.
So, what if the things that we take to God in prayer seem to be the same week after week? Is that a sign that we are not going to God with the right motives? Is it that He has not answered our prayers yet? Is it that He has answered our prayers and we just have not accepted his will?
John Calvin once said “We must repeat the same supplications not twice or three times only, but as often as we have a need, a hundred and a thousand times…We must never weary in waiting for God’s help.” As long as what you are praying for is within the will of God, we should keep asking until God grants our request or removes the desire from our heart. 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
God sometimes forces us to wait for an answer to our prayers to teach us patience and perseverance. Sometimes our requests may not yet be in God’s timing for our lives. I saw this quote somewhere and thought it fit pretty well, “Prayer is not only our presenting requests to God; it is God’s presenting His will to our hearts. Keep on asking, keep on knocking, and keep on seeking until God grants your request or convinces you that your request is not His will for you. That’s why the persistent prayer of an earnest believer doesn’t have to be a sign of wimpy faith, rather it can be an ongoing declaration of our confidence in God’s loving willingness to provide for, guide, and protect us.”
We often go to God in prayer when we are in trouble or need a miracle, but there are times when a particular issue is always in the forefront of our petitions. It is not wrong to go to God with these issues repeatedly. In Matthew 26-39-44, Jesus said the same prayer repeatedly in the time leading up to his death. Matthew 26:44 says, “So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.” The key thing I believe here is that your prayer needs to be a heartfelt request and not just a phoning it in recitation.
Another thing the Bible says is that we need to pray with authority and faith. James 1:6-8 states, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
To close, I want to leave you with a good link to visit that may help you to be able to learn to pray effectively, http://www.wikihow.com/Pray-Effectively-(Christianity). This looks like a good model that you can use to work your way through developing an effective prayer life. You don’t have to do all of the steps, but I think you can find some things that will help you build your relationship with Christ in this. Your prayers do not have to be in a strange sounding, flowery prayer speak. They can just be words that come from your heart. If all else fails, God knows your needs and your struggles. An honest “Help me!” lifted up to him can help you get started.