by Josh Zappone
Here’s the thing, compared to some of you reading this post I am a prayer novice. There are several people at Washington Cathedral who I consider to be prayer warriors and giants, who I have so much to learn from. Though I have been praying for most of my life, I still struggle with it at times, and sometimes feel like I “suck” at prayer.
Rather than saying I “suck” at prayer, it would be more accurate to say I struggle with the discipline of prayer. I’ve never been the most disciplined or organized person, and I have often felt that may be hindering my prayer life. Still, I have this thirst inside me longing to reach those depths of prayer that I read about or see in other people at the church.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Ps 63:1 (ESV)
I am willing to bet that there are many people out there that feel a frustration with their own prayer lives, who desire more intimacy with God, who try this and try that but still struggle.
I have some great news for you. Be discouraged no more. Take it from someone who has experienced this first hand. Here is the first step to help you break through that prayer wall.
Stop comparing, start praying.
If you feel like your prayers are lacking, if you feel like you are failing to pray the way you should, or if you simply have fallen into a rut where your prayers are rote and not bringing you closer to God- stop comparing! There are so many great teachers on prayer and great practices that we can take up. SO MANY! You could read about prayer for years!
I think we have the temptation to make a “mountain” out of the spiritual discipline of prayer. We see the greatness and the height of it and it is intimidating. Can I ever attain such a prayer life? It’s like seeing the massive but glorious undertaking of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail… You could dream about it for years! You could buy the gear and read the blogs and then never set foot upon the trail. All this thinking about prayer can lead to a discouragement where you abandon the depths of prayer that transforms your life.
When it comes to prayer I cannot look first to the many others who have come before me. I am not going to be a Brother Lawrence or an A.W. Tozer. I am going to be Josh. Your prayers do not need to sound like the polished prayers of Paul or Jesus. I am going to look first to Jesus as it says so perfectly in Psalm 63, “earnestly I seek you”. That is the simplicity of prayer. It is Josh and Jesus.
I would challenge you to think of prayer as a vast ocean and not a mountain. There are great depths to prayer and a vastness that allows you to simply seek Jesus without hesitation. It will be a lifetime of exploring and going deeper
My encouragement to you this week is to pray. Let nothing hold you back. Jesus is waiting for us to abide with him- to find ourselves in him. Let your journey of prayer take the path it will take, maintain that thirst you have for God, and humbly stop comparing your prayers to others. Give yourself freedom to pursue God and understand that you are diving into an ocean of unknowable depth and richness and you are not alone.