I urge you, brethren, . . . to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.
If we know prayer is key to experiencing God’s power, then why don’t we pray more? This week, I want to share with you two truths about prayer that might be an encouragement to you as you try to make prayer a priority in your life.
Truth number one: praying consistently is difficult. Paul wrote in Romans 15:30, “I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” That word translated as “strive” is “agonizomai,” which was used to describe the struggle that occurred in an athletic contest–particularly a wrestling match.
Prayer is a struggle. Let’s be upfront about that. For one thing, prayer is a struggle with our enemy. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul said, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” One reason prayer is so hard is that Satan does not want you to pray. He wants to block the power of God from coming into your life, so he will do everything he can to distract you and discourage you from praying.
But prayer is also a struggle with God Himself. Jesus Christ wrestled with God the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. In fact, the struggle with God was so intense, Luke 22:44 says Jesus’s sweat poured from His face like great drops of blood. What was He wresting with God about? Whether it was God’s will or His will that was going to be done. Prayer is a struggle over whether we are going to submit to the will of God in our lives.
Finally, prayer is a struggle with ourselves. It is a struggle to get up a few minutes earlier in the morning in order to pray. It is a struggle to say no to that extra television program in the evening to make time to pray. It is a struggle to lay aside that book we are wrapped up in and spend time in prayer instead. It is a struggle to keep our minds focused when we do pray instead of running through our to-do list. Prayer is a struggle with Satan, with God, and with ourselves.
Here is the good news: God understands how difficult it is to pray. In fact, sometimes God is a lot more understanding with us than we are with ourselves. Psalm 103:14 says God “knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” Prayer was a struggle for Jesus Himself, and it is going to be a struggle for you and me as well. But we can take heart that we are praying to a God who made us, who understands us, and who loves us.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of Faith-Kneeling” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.