Why is Prayer so Difficult?

At one level, it isn’t. Many of us chatter to God all day, turning to him at a moment’s notice. No, I’m talking about time spent waiting on God, seeking to deeply enter his presence, to worship, to listen to him. Dangerous prayer, that changes us.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced just enough of this listening prayer to whet your appetite, to make you long for more. Yet there have also been many times when you’ve sat, your mind going in all directions, not much sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit, nothing that sounds much like Jesus’ words to your soul.

Why is it so difficult?

I’m privileged to be a Beta reader for a friend who is writing on soul formation. To be honest, it’s not an area that I’ve related to well in the past, though my friend has a different way of making her point – her book is drawing me in. Especially her section on listening prayer. So I’ve been inspired to reengage.

As part of that, I picked up  “Let’s Talk”, a booklet on prayer by Bill Crowder. I found him asking the same questions. “If prayer is so important ….   why do we so often find it so difficult? Why do we sometimes find it unsatisfying? Why do we struggle to experience the freshness and the wonder of our God when sincerely trying to enter his presence?”

It was the first phrase that struck me. “If prayer is so important ….” Yes, we know how important prayer is. Both personal and corporate. So, from what we know of the Christian journey, wouldn’t we expect it also to be difficult? Of course! It’s fairly obvious, but it came as a new insight.

Liszt’s piano piece “Campanella” is excruciatingly difficult, and excruciatingly beautiful. Is it worth the trouble? To the pianist who has won through to flawless performance, the answer is, “Oh yes! Oh  my goodness yes!”

So, a new engagement with listening prayer. Anyone coming with me?