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Seasons of Prayer


Written by Ryan Chaffin


Prayer is a vital way we as Christians can connect with God. Unfortunately, prayer doesn’t always come easy for me. There have been times in my life where prayer has felt refreshing and joyful as my words draw my mind into God’s throne room. There have also been times in my life where prayer has seemed frustrating, tiring, overwhelming, even useless. With all the brokenness in our lives, where do we even start when talking to God? If God didn’t answer my prayer in the past, why do I think this time will be any different? Does God even want to answer my prayer? Does he even care about the pain I feel? Personally, the last few months have felt like a season of wrestling with God in and about prayer. I have seen God answer daily pleas for strength and provision but have not seen him answer larger pleas for healing, reconciliation, and peace. In the midst of all this, God reminded me what the Bible says about prayer as I stumbled upon James 5:13-16:


13Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.


Reading this passage, I felt like the Lord had a very simple message for me: Pray. What should I do when I feel excited? Pray. What should I do when I don’t know if that prayer request is worth offering yet another time? Pray. What should I do when I am avoiding the Lord because of my shame? You guessed it, pray. In this season of life the Lord has reminded me to pray because he wants me to intimately and personally experience his care (not just mentally agree to a theological truth about his love).


Now, if you are like me, you probably read that last paragraph and heard something like this, “Great, now I need to strive even harder to pray because if I don’t, then I’m sinning.” Let me be abundantly clear, that kind of thinking is not from the Lord nor is it true. Sometimes the hardship of life overwhelms our ability to be great Christians who pray all the time. Praise God there is grace. I am thankful for the way he is teaching me that his first reaction to human frailty is to pick us up and carry us on his back, not to burden and shame us further.


With all this in mind, I still feel very stuck at times. Prayer is good, yet I often don’t have the strength to pray. It is in these moments the Lord reminds me of those words in James 5:16, “Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” If you are reading this and don’t feel like you have the strength to go to God, then ask someone else to pray for you (a friend, pastor, family member, etc). God knows we won’t always have the strength to pray which is why he gives us the Church. Maybe next time you have that tough week and miraculously drag yourself to church, consider talking with someone on the prayer team or the person next to you.


Perhaps most beautifully of all, God has also been reminding me that when all else fails, he is praying for me (Hebrews 7:25). I want to end with a quote from my absolute favorite book, Gentle and Lowly, “Jesus is praying for you right now. ‘It is a consoling thought,’ wrote theologian Louis Berkhof, ‘that Christ is praying for us even when we are negligent in our prayer life.’” When I fail to pray, when I have no one to talk with, there is Jesus pouring out his heart in constant prayer for me.

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