From my journal in January of 2012 (and posted on my Tumblr).
Journal Entry – Jan 24, 2012
On Sunday, Todd [the pastor of the church I go to] talked about striving in prayer. He gave us a good outline of how we can be successful in our attempt at striving in prayer. I am reminded that prayer takes time; it is a sacrifice of time. He used the example: when you go out to lunch and spend time with someone, have a conversation with them, it doesn’t just last one second and then it’s over. It takes time. I need to set aside time every day to really spend in prayer. So often I become very general while praying, “God, please be with this family.” Todd reminded us that if the people in this family are believers, then I am asking God to do something He has already promised to do. Specificity is so important. If we are so general in our prayers, it will be difficult for us to see how God answers them. We should know what we are asking God and think, “How am I going to know when He has answered this prayer?” Fasting. This is something I have heard a lot about but never really studied. I have fasted from material things, but never from food. I think I may do this soon, though, so that I can seriously devote time to pray for [a friend of mine] to know Christ. I want to study it a bit more first, though. Another thing my pastor mentioned is that while persisting in prayer, we must be willing to pray the same thing over and over and over and over again for a long time until God answers us; “…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). And also asking people to praywith you, not just for you but to strive in prayer with you. He mentioned that there is a risk in that, in asking someone to pray with you. At times, it may come to be that the person who is praying with you may come to you and say, “I’ve been praying about this, and I really think that God is telling you no.” Having someone pray with you can be a hard thing, but at times they can help you see His answers to your prayers. But also, they can be a comfort as they help to carry these burdens. They can be an encouragement to you as you continue to strive together in prayer.
Unfortunately, so often I go to God for this and that, and all of these things are selfish. Even, at times, in my praying for the salvation of a friend. Maybe at times when I pray, I am so tired. Maybe at times I just want them to know Him because I’ve been carrying this burden, and my emotions are so constantly being poured into this, that I am tired of praying and thinking on these things that my motive for praying for their salvation has turned in to one of selfishness.
“Sometimes prayer is a struggle because God is literally beating the selfishness out of you.” –Todd Pylant
I need to pray that God would take the selfishness out of me so that I never pray in selfishness. Sometimes it just gets really really hard to pray the same things over and over again. I want to, and I know I need to. And I care so much for the people I pray for, especially the people who I am praying for to come to Christ, but it gets hard. I think it is so hard at times because of the care and desire for salvation for someone. It is hard to know that just like last night, and the night before, and the many many nights before those, I still need to be patient and wait. I know that it is His desire for these people to be saved, and to have a relationship with them, so I should let that be an encouragement to me as I continue to pray for them. I need to remember that He is sovereign and that His timing is perfect.
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