What keeps us from persistent, day-and-night prayer?
Our Divisional Staff Team from InterVarsity in Florida studied Luke 18 this afternoon and this question came up several times: "What keeps us from prayer?"
In the first part of the passage, a widow approaches a judge looking for justice. The judge refuses to help her for some time, but eventually caves, bent by her persistence. And God, who is more just than any judge, will do the same for us. So, in Luke's logic, Jesus' disciples "should always pray and not give up."
But we struggle to do this. To pray persistently. To "cry out to him day and night."
Stacy, our new Divisional Director, zeroed in on one of the reasons why we struggle to pray:
it's not that we're not spiritual enough, it's that we're not desperate enough.
We secretly believe that we're one more hard day's work away from breakthrough. We think we're one idea away from turning a corner. We think that we're supposed to do it - whatever "it" is - on our own.
We've been told all our lives that if we just put our minds to it - whatever "it" is - we can succeed. We've been told in the church that God has given us gifts and time and talent and treasure and that the ball is in our court. We have been told that we can do it, whatever "it" is.
So, we're not desperate.
And so we turn on our spirituality. I mean that in both ways. We blame our troubles on our lack of spirituality, turning on our spirituality as the culprit and cause of our struggle. We also try to become more spiritual, working on our theology and personal holiness.
But what if our problem is not our spirituality?
What if our problem is that we're trying to do something we weren't supposed to do in the first place, something that's reserved for God to do? Maybe it's convincing a friend to follow Jesus. Maybe it's dragging a neighbor away from an addiction. Maybe it's getting someone to apologize and ask forgiveness. We push against our limits and stifle desperation.
Perhaps our lack of prayer is the symptom, not the cause of our trouble.
Where do you see yourself pushing against your limits?