We’re commanded in many places in scripture to pray. We have the duty of continual communion with Him. And yet, so often we don’t pray as we ought. Why is this?
It seems so easy. Praying isn’t as hard as spreading asphalt in Nevada on a summer day. It isn’t battling a five-alarm fire in the canyons. It isn’t helping your mother with Alzheimer’s. All you do is sit in your air conditioned place, put your hands together, and speak to Jesus, our friend.
But is that all prayer is? No.
David McIntyre in his 1912 book, The Hidden Life of Prayer (free online) explains why praying is so hard sometimes. He tells why we do not do it as we ought. The Hidden Life of Prayer was one of the books that Tim Challies selected for his program “Reading Through the Classics.” Challies wrote,
McIntyre was a Scottish preacher who succeeded Andrew Bonar as minister in Finnieston and later served as principal of the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow from 1913 to 1938. His book was first published in 1913.
McIntyre is insightful when he writes this,
Our Lord takes it for granted that His people will pray. And indeed in Scripture generally the outward obligation of prayer is implied rather than asserted. Moved by a divinely-implanted instinct, our natures cry out for God, for the living God. And however this instinct may be crushed by sin, it awakes to power in the consciousness of redemption.
McIntyre is powerful when he writes this,
And yet, instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.
We know that we do not wrestle with others, but with powers and principalities of the air. And who is the prince of the power of the air? Satan. (Ephesians 6:12, Ephesians 2:2). But to put the two concepts together as one of the reasons prayer is so arduous, we have a powerful truth.
And lest we think that even if we had an easy life with no problems, or can slack off due to our tight communion with God, McIntyre write this about Jesus:
And this one who sought retirement with so much solitude was the Son of God, having no sin to confess, no shortcoming to deplore, no unbelief to subdue, no languor of love to overcome. Nor are we to imagine that His prayers were merely peaceful meditations, or rapturous acts of communion. They were strenuous and warlike, from that hour in the wilderness when angels came to minister to the prostrate Man of Sorrows, on to that awful “agony” in which His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. His prayers were sacrifices, offered up with strong crying and tears.
“Prayer is the key of heaven; the Spirit helps faith to turn this key.” ~Thomas Watson.