When I'm Struggling to Pray
When I’m Struggling to Pray
by Pastor David
In light of a certain prominent celebration at the end of October, I thought it would be fitting to hear from the man often credited for beginning the Protestant Reformation. Oh, you thought I meant a different, more ghoulish celebration? October 31st marked the 495th anniversary of Martin Luther pounding his 95 Theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. Though this act is often considered the beginning of the Reformation, God had been preparing and moving towards the Reformation for several hundred years before Luther. However, Luther and his bold teaching most clearly, dramatically, and notably influenced the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church.
Luther did much more than contradict and confront the false teachings of Rome. He poured his heart and soul into pastoral ministry, from public preaching to private counsel. When his good friend and barber Peter Beskendorf asked him for advice on prayer, Luther wrote a 34-page booklet. Here is some of his introduction.
“Dear Master Peter:
I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray. May our dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than I! Amen.
First, when I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little Psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-â€for-â€word the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.
It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas that tell you, "Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that." Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs, which so hold your attention and involve you that noting comes of prayer for that day.
It may well be that you may have some tasks which are as good or better than prayer, especially in an emergency. There is a saying ascribed to St. Jerome that everything a believer does is prayer, and a proverb says, “Those who work faithfully pray twice.” This can be said because believers fear and honor God in their work and remember the commandment not to wrong anyone, or to try to steal, defraud, or cheat. Such thoughts and such faith undoubtedly transform their work into prayer and a sacrifice of praise....
Yet we must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to benecessary which, after all, are nothing or the kind. Thus at the end we become lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer. The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer....”