Drop the Prayer Guilt

It is not uncommon for Christians to be discouraged and uncertain about prayer. Whenever I begin to focus my attention on prayer certain thoughts flood my mind: 
"I should pray more."
"I should pray better."
"Will God hear me?" 
What normally happens is that I attempt to pray with greater diligence but within a few days or more I fall back into a habit of not praying, and inevitably repeat the same discouraged cycle. Then I had kids.

As a dad I want my kids to talk with me. I find myself engaging them, not only so that I can impart some wisdom into their day, but to know them. I want them to share their thoughts and fears with me. I delight in knowing they want to talk with me, and look to me for help. I don't want them to think that because they have neglected spending time with me, that I will no longer receive them. I never want them to think that because they haven't shared with me that I wouldn't be ready and eager to hear from them.

Now if God is a perfect Father, isn't his desire to communicate with us even greater? If I, as a sinner, want my children to know and speak with me, doesn't he, in perfect love, want us to know and speak with him? I think this is absolutely certain. He not only asks us to pray, he urges us to seek him in prayer. He wants us to ask him for help, for provision, for wisdom, and for power. He wants us to come to him when we mess up, and not hide away thinking he isn't aware, or doesn't want to forgive us.

How do we know God wants us to pray? He initiated. He spoke to us first. This is what Hebrews 1.1 says, "...in these last days he has spoken to us b his Son..."  He sent his Son to break down the barriers of sin and death that separated us from knowing him and resting in his love. He reconciled us to himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus, so that we can cry out "Abba" or daddy (Romans 8.15, Galatians 4.6). Would he go to such great lengths and then not want us to speak to him and petition him?

The fact that Jesus came, died, rose again, and is at God's right hand means you and I always have a mediator. We can boldly come to God, knowing that he hears those who come to him in on the basis of Christ's finished work. Drop the guilt about not praying enough, or praying good enough. You have a loving God who wants you to talk with him. He invites you to share your thoughts, fears, and needs with him. He wants to share with you his own heart, through his Word and indwelling Holy Spirit.

Bible References: ESV (Crossway 2001)
Image: Photo by Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.com  
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