I don’t pray like I should. When I look at how Jesus prayed, I realize that my prayer life is anemic. I don’t say this to be humble or to exaggerate. I do pray; I just realize that my prayer life falls short of what I want it to be, and what it needs to be.
As I think about this, there are at least three reasons.
One: I’m not desperate. “A needy heart is a praying heart,” writes Paul Miller in his excellent book A Praying Life. “Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.” I’m always needy, but I’m not always aware of my need. If I really grasped how much I need God, then I would be much quicker to pray.
Two: I’m not honest. I like to pray when I have my act together. I want God to see my best side. I have a much harder time praying when I’m tempted or struggling. More accurately, I have a hard time praying honestly when I’m tempted or struggling. This is a sign that I’m trusting in my own righteousness rather than in the righteousness of Christ. If I really understood the gospel, I’d be okay with coming to God no matter how I’m feeling. The gospel frees us to be honest in prayer and to come just as we are.
Three: I’m not bold. When I read Jesus’ lavish promises about prayer, I instinctively pull back. Can I really come boldly? Can I pray boldly, audaciously, relentlessly as Jesus seemed to teach? Is there really such a thing as mountain-moving prayer? I look for the footnotes, the conditions that will convince me that Jesus wasn’t really saying that I should keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. As a result, my prayers become safe and boring. Even I lose interest.
These are my three biggest issues in prayer. They also point me in the direction of a healthy prayer life. When I am desperate, honest, and bold, I am ready to pray. The best news: when the gospel sinks in, it frees me to be desperate, honest, and bold.
My prayer? That God would grant me a holy desperation, honesty, and boldness. Maybe you’ll pray with me?