Keep it up
No matter how simply and honestly we pray it’s easy to lose heart and it's tempting to give up. That’s why it’s not enough just to keep it simple and keep it real, Jesus also says that we must "always pray, and not give up."
But how do we do this when our initial enthusiasm fades or God doesn’t seem to be answering?
Prayer can be a lot like stacking dominoes. We pray the same thing we’ve prayed one hundred times before, until suddenly, the whole lot comes down. The breakthrough occurs. The miracle happens. It’s not that we finally found the right formula. It’s simply that we didn’t give up praying one prayer too soon.
I’ve found that one of the most important keys to "keeping it up" in prayer is to develop the discipline of a daily "quiet time". Jesus once invited his friends, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest", (Mark 6:31 NIVUK) and millions of his followers, ever since, have allocated a little time each day to retreat with Jesus to a quiet place.
As someone who struggles with all kinds of self-discipline—attending the gym, declining the chocolate cake, going to bed before midnight, bothering to floss my teeth and, yes, even maintaining regular times of prayer—I hesitate to advocate the rigidity of any such routine. I don’t want to put anything heavy or unsustainable on you as you seek to grow in prayer.
But here is the great and inescapable truth, taught in Scripture, modelled by Christ and advocated, without exception, by all the heroes of our faith: you cannot grow in prayer without some measure of effort and discomfort, self-discipline and self-denial. Just as you cannot get physically fit without regular exercise and a healthy diet, so your spiritual growth will be determined, to a very significant extent, by the prayer exercises you choose (or do not choose) to establish and sustain.
Pete makes two suggestions to help us develop rhythms of prayer that are regular and sustainable: make it easy (set yourself an achievable target) and keep it up. Take a moment now to reflect on your daily rhythms and make a fresh commitment to prayer.
God thank you for the joy of getting to know you more in prayer. Please give me the strength to keep going in prayer and help me to remember that every single prayer is heard by you and never a waste.