We do not get an immediate answer. People are used to having quick results and doing three to five things at the same time. Praying is exactly the opposite. It requires us to calm our soul. We do not know if we will get an answer to the important issue we have or how long we will have to wait for it. The concept of praying puts the decision in someone else’s hands, not ours. But if we sit and think, what we receive after praying helps us more and heals us better than any temporary solution we may find ourselves. God knows what we need most and what He gives us is not superficial. Even the silent moments can be a part of what we need.
We do not identify ourselves with our fellows. Sometimes, it is hard for us to feel what others feel, because we are so caught up in our own lives and problems. And maybe, although we care about the harsh times our fellow humans are going through, we do not care enough to take time to invest in serious praying for them. Ironically, the more we pray for others, the less we care about them. On the other hand, some of us can feel overwhelmed by the length of our prayer list. It is good and normal to shorten it when we feel it is too long or exhausting. Or we can divide the people by days. Or we can take a couple of days of break. We don’t need to try to save the world. And we don’t need to feel guilty when we take care of our souls.
We forget about God’s greatness. Sometimes we don’t realize or we forget the amazing things God can do, even though He doesn’t answer our prayers. We reach a moment when we do not want to invest time and emotional energy anymore, if we consider it to be in vain. Faith is something we must choose to cultivate actively. The Israelites intentionally memorised every moment God protected them to remember His love and power. Remember the moments when you saw Him working or the testimonies of other people. Tell yourself that the same God is with you today. Maybe it seems like He doesn’t answer, but He’s there. He can act instantly just as He did in the past.
We think God measures time. Regardless of how we were raised, many of us believe there’s a certain standard period of time we need to spend with God and a certain way. Most perfectionists are rather preoccupied by the aspect of “doing” rather than “being”. Are we keeping our eyes on the watch while spending time with our friends, to make sure we stay with them just for a certain period of time or do we actually enjoy the moments together? Are we happy when they are in a hurry and leave early? What we feel when we’re around them is how connected we are to them. Similarly, God likes spending quality time with us. Even five minutes can be significant when spent with all of our heart, instead of an hour lost just to say that we’ve accomplished the mission.
We got used to the idea. To be honest, the act of praying can be easily abandoned. Many frightened Christians risk considering praying as something common, because they’ve heard about it many times. God is described as being our best friend and our closest confidant. But do we realize how great He is to wish to be our friend? And not any kind of friend, but one who is closer to us than almost anyone else and whose presence is unconditional? Let’s not regard with utmost familiarity the idea of God’s love to prevent us from realizing how extraordinary this privilege is. The Creator of all Universe has invested such interest for every little detail of our daily life. He cares about us more than the person who loves us the most. And this is wonderful. Maya Angelou has expressed herself very well when saying: „God loves me. It still overwhelms me that this force who’s made the leaves, the insects, the water, and you, loves me”. To show the greatness of His love, God really wants us to ask for things He’s capable of giving us. Seen from another perspective, He is the King who does not need anything from us. He would have all the right to ask things from us. We could think that, as His servants, we shouldn’t be allowed to ask but certain things from our king, such as those related to life and death. But can we perhaps imagine a king enjoying every time His servants stay in His presence without a reason? A king who carefully listens to every request, be it big or small, and fulfils it with pleasure? This is not a normal behaviour towards servants. Only friends are treated like this. And children are treated in a similar way. The Creator of the Universe does not need to invite us to spend time with Him. He doesn’t need to wish for our communication with Him. Communication with Him is not an obligation, but a gift. In the same way, prayer is not just a privilege, but also a necessity. Sometimes, when we do not pray, we feel like apologizing not only in front of God – who, fortunately, does not hold a grudge – but also to ourselves. We feel like we’ve lost a moment in which we could have been glad for the peace and help we needed.
We use the Holy Spirit as a help. From a fundamental point of view, prayer can become a task when we see it as something that must be done. There are moments when we feel completely grateful for the gift of prayer. But there are also moments when it is perceived as a task that we must take off the list. In moments like these, we must remember what prayer truly means. If we manage to do so, there is no chance to feel that this is something that must be done, but instead something we want to do. However, there will still be enough moments when prayer is seen like a task. As Paul said, the Spirit is full of craving, but flesh is powerless. It is very easy to get back into the habit of praying only when ready, if we are anxious or get distracted. Fortunately, we do not have to live with regrets. God is merciful and he understands the challenges we have to overcome as human beings. But, whilst flesh is powerless, the Spirit must get powerful in prayer. Besides remembering the beauty of prayer, we can ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence – He lives in us – to help us wish to pray. We can ask Him to help us appreciate the privilege and discover what we really want. And He will help us with pleasure. Let’s not forget: it is always worth praying!