So I'm finally here to put up a real post, if you can call it that. My life has been a little bittersweet lately, filled with many joys, but it has also been laced with sorrows and difficulties. But even so, I can say it has certainly been strengthening my prayer life. I'm going to attempt to put some of my recent thoughts into something coherent.
Strengthening your prayer life is one of those things that just isn't easy. But then again a lot of things really worth having aren't easy to get. Sometimes the best things in life require the most fighting and prayer is one of them. It often takes time and a lot of effort; there is no easy formula to a stronger prayer life. I discovered this when I read Eric and Leslie Ludy's book Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God. There is no easy 5 step formula. It takes work but it's something worth fighting for.
There are times in life when there are things on my heart that I can't bring to anybody else. There are griefs and burdens that I can't handle on my own and I can only turn to God in prayer. He knows and even when words cannot express what I'm feeling, He's listening. In the past, whenever difficulty would come my way, I would first turn to a friend. In trials, I always wanted to confide in my friends often before I even went before God. Now I don't do that easily anymore, but have rather pleaded with God in prayer and have found Him to be faithful all the time. No matter what happens, I can trust Him and be completely honest with Him.
As I recently read through the Gospels, one of the things I noticed was how Jesus went up to the mountain to pray. It's interesting to see that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spent so much time in prayer. Often at the end of a long day serving and teaching others, He would go up to the mountain to pray. Why the mountain? Was it simply because there was nowhere else to go? Was that the only place where people would leave Him alone? (If you have any thoughts on this, please share them with me.) Whatever the case was, He spent an incredible amount of time communing with the Father and I have a feeling there were many nights where He got little to no sleep. Even the last night of His life before He was crucified He spent agonizing in prayer.
Another aspect of prayer that I have been learning is boldness. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Philippians 4:6 says "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." The scary part though about exercising boldness is that God answers and sometimes I'm not ready when He does.
Prayer is also often difficult because sometimes when God answers it hurts. This is especially true if you pray for God's cleansing in your life. His goal is to make us more like Christ and the purification process can often get very painful.
But overall, I have come to discover that prayer and a passionate communion with God is something worth fighting for. What compels a man to do anything to win the heart of and be with the woman he loves? What compels a man to sell everything he has to purchase one pearl of great price? What compelled Christ to come and suffer and die for mankind? Because in the end, each man knows that the price is more than worth it.