Prayer Struggles

One of the decisions I made at the start of this new year was to spend more time with God in prayer. For a number of months towards the end of 2012, I had been feeling spiritually dry and I was taught that the one way to overcome spiritual dryness is to spend more time in prayer. Now let me tell you, this was very hard for me. I always felt that prayer was something I had to do: a religious act so to speak. To be fair, discipline is required in order to grow and mature in any facet of life but it was difficult for me to find the line between spiritual discipline and religiosity. This may sound crazy to some of you but I actually don’t believe in “religion”. When Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Love God but Hate Religion” blew up on youtube, it was like someone was reading my journal to me. However I digress (which you will find I often do). So back to prayer, I had a conversation with the Kikster who was also struggling with a similar problem and she told me that we have to be strategic about growing our relationship with God. As we grow older, we get busier but we still need to make out time to hang out with the people we love. It then follows that God should be the #1 person we make an appointment to hang out with.

For many years, before I started taking my relationship with God seriously (in what I call my B.C – before Christ days) I struggled with finding the line between religion and spirituality. I thought it was alright for church to be boring and prayer was something I had to get through so I wouldn’t have to lie to my mum when she asked me if I had prayed. It was also something I did so I could have one over my friends. I felt that I was better than them because I prayed “everyday”. Was I a pharisee or what? You see, God isn’t one for outward appearances, He searches the heart and is more interested in the people who know they’re absolute crap without Him than those who think that are wonderful and so deserve the blessings they have and more. My point is this: prayer is meant to be some real one-on-one time with God and there really should be no ulterior motives or else I’m just wasting my time. God pays attention to my prayers when my heart is set on just spending time with Him and being real with Him. So I can talk to Him about anything from boys to my clothes, my parents and how I feel about Him. I can be angry, sad or moody. I can sit, stand, kneel, lie down, whatever. What He wants me to bring to the table is myself.

Having said all this, I can acknowledge that it was not easy for me to accept that I needed to spend more time praying so I kept putting off developing a strategy until the new year started. I knew that I couldn’t put it off any longer for a number of reasons but the most important one was because I knew God had many plans for me this year and if I didn’t spend quality time with Him to know His mind and receive instruction and strategy, I would miss out on many opportunities. So with that in mind, I came up with a plan. Starting January 2013, I would pray for 40 minutes (apart from the time spent reading my devotionals and writing in my journals) and increase this by 2 minutes every new month until I’m spending an hour a day in prayer.

Now, I’m not sharing this because I want you to think I’m some extra spiritual person. The truth of the matter is that there are days when I’m able to stick to this and other days when I don’t. It’s especially hard during the weekends because I wake up earlier on those days. However, I see everyday as a new day and a new opportunity and each time I falter, I get up. Those days that I’m able to stick to it, I give God the glory because outside His grace I can do nothing. That’s one thing I know for a fact and not just some religious anecdote. So even if you’re praying five minutes a day, see if you can raise it to 10. If you’re doing 20, see if you can do 22. Don’t look at other people and try to do exactly what they’re doing. Keep your eyes on God and His plans for you and ask for the grace to keep moving. At the end of the day, God wants you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. If He wanted you to be like someone else, He wouldn’t have created you.

Finally, I can say that there is marked difference in my life since I started spending more time in prayer. I’m more spiritually sensitive and I can detect when Satan is trying to distract or attack me with things that the world would see as harmless. I’m also more productive and a more comfortable version of myself. Prayer is honestly the best kinda medicine. It might not seem pleasant at first but if you hunker down and ask God for His grace, you’ll see yourself doing more than you ever dreamed. I assure you.

“For Training the body helps a little, but godly living [which includes praying] helps in every way. Godly
living has the promise of
[abundant] life now and in the world to come.” – 1 Tim 4:8

Alright guys, that’s it for me today. I hope this speaks to someone and as always, please feel free to leave any comments and ask any questions and I’ll get back to you 🙂

God bless you

Grace’s daughter

10 thoughts on “Prayer Struggles

  1. paintedlady says:

    Grace’s Daughter, I completely see where you are coming from. I too have struggled with praying period. I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but there are sometimes when I’m too scared to pray or too disheartened to pray- I feel the prayer in my heart but I can’t utter the words out loud. Do you ever feel this way? How do you overcome it? i’m sure you are probably thinking ‘obviously, to overcome it, just pray’. But the thing is, I want to know how other people deal with this. Thanks for this post xxxx

    • aokwodu says:

      Hey paintedlady,
      First of all, I want to say thanks ever so much for taking the time out to read the blog and I’m really happy that something spoke to you. Before I answer your question, I want to reiterate that I am no “Jesus-professional”. I simply share my thoughts and opinions based on my relationship with and experience of God so please feel free to disagree with anything I have to say (while staying open of course ;-)).
      To answer your question, it’s honestly been a while since I felt too disheartened or scared to pray mostly because prayer is what I do to get over being afraid. So you’re absolutely right when you said that the first answer that would come to my head is to pray away the fear and discouragement. I will say though that another thing that works is praise. My mother had surgery in the middle of last year and the months leading up to the surgery weren’t easy for me. I fasted and was praying for her. There were times when I’d speak in tongues for an hour but I’d still have that niggling fear somewhere in the back of my mind that she wouldn’t make it through. However, when I started to praise God for who He is and what He has done, the fear dissipated. I figure it’s because praising Him made Him bigger than the situation so I could trust that He was in control. So when the prayer is in your heart but fear and discouragement won’t let you say it, switch to praise. The bible says He inhabits the praises of His people so praising Him brings Him that much closer to you.
      I hope this helps.

      • paintedlady says:

        Thanks for your response. I completely understand what you mean. Praising Him and experiencing the power that He has over all situations kills all from of fear. Sometimes, you just need someone else to spell it out for you 🙂 Thanks muchos!!

  2. Oge says:

    Everyday I remember you….i thank God for your life.
    Thank you for being a blessing to me especially and I can’t wait to see the finished products when God is done with us…..if He ever gets done 🙂 #NeverEndingGrace #MoreGrace

  3. Eloxie says:

    Grace’s daughter! Congrats on starting this blog. You sure have a lot to share and i am excited at your journey. Thanks for always giving everything you have to all you do, it reflects even as i read through your blog and I am so proud of you.
    Just wanted to say in addition to your thoughts above that I’ve found that worship does help when I’m struggling to pray. Worship here doesn’t refer to just listening to slow, gospel/ worship music o! that can be entertainment!!! Actually refers to opening your mouth and heart to worship, so just singing and meditating on what i’m singing in worship helps me. So i look for worship and i also seek intentionally for people praying anywhere to get me going, i dont mind gate crashing a prayer meeting in church. I also find the book of Psalms quite helpful, sometimes as i read the Psalms to God in prayer, i feel just like David did as the words encapsulate my daily struggles in a conversational mode.
    I also advise that whilst we need to have a consistent daily block time to pray, the Bible encourages that we pray at all times and with all manners of prayer. So whilst you build that habitual place and time of prayer, pray all the time, under your breath and in your spirit, about everything. Don’t be discouraged that you haven’t gotten to 1 hour of prayer daily yet. Think about it, that boss/ colleague who is driving you crazy, that hair of yours that just keeps breaking, or that on the spot decision you need to make, you can pray about all of that just when the thought hits you and you are on your way. I’ve found that when we learn to just talk to God out of relationship, all the time, rather than out of religion, we begin to look forward to that time of refreshing at His feet cos we get more attention. Just think about your very amazing dad, yes, you could do with a big hug and a head rub, but there’s nothing like that one on one time when you get to really talk to him about everything and everyone and He gives you spot on advice. That my dear is what prayer is!
    Here’s to more refreshing prayer lives everyone!

  4. Nene. O says:

    This definitely spoke to me Dobs. Take home message: I need to hunker down.
    It’s hard finding that balance with work, life, family and friends.
    But that quiet time and time spent with God is absolutely necessary and it grows you.
    If you don’t mind sharing what do you do in those 40mins/almost 40 mins?
    Are you just praying, praising, meditating on the word? Do you have a regimen?
    Also, are you an early riser?
    I look forward to reading how you keep this up as you juggle life and your new job (Bless God, btw! so excited for you still :D).
    I just know somehow that Grace’s Daughter is going to be a wonderful journey for you as well as us.
    Love,
    ‘Nene. O

    • aokwodu says:

      Hey Nene,
      I’m happy this spoke to you and I definitely understand how it can be difficult to balance the different areas of your life and still find quality time to spend with God. Well I try not to have a routine when I pray because I figure that when I spend time with my friends and we hang out, we don’t have a precise schedule on how we will spend our time. There are certain things we will definitely do like jist about boys, parents, work, etc and most likely eat together so I try to apply that same outlook to my prayer time. I will spend some time speaking in tongues, some time praising and worshipping and some time speaking my heart; telling Him what He means to me and placing my requests before Him. I am definitely not an early riser. My mother can attest to the fact that I am not a morning person but I try to ensure that I block a certain time during the day, usually before noon to pray.
      Thanks so much for the encouragement and you can be assured that I will update you on my progress in this area. I pray that God continues to speak to you through this blog

  5. Faridah says:

    So proud of you Dobs!
    Prayer is definitely something I need to incorporate more into my life. The 4-5 mins of sleepily mumbled words I utter just before bedtime isn’t good enough and I owe both God and myself much more than that. He deserves so much more from me. Will definitely try to extend it a little more daily because I really do find prayer comforting. No fronting, no hesitation, zero attempt at eloquence….. just spilling my heart out to Him…..nothing compares to it.

  6. Tess says:

    Adaobi, thanks for the encouraging words. Prayer indeed needs discipline because one might not always be in the mood to pray but it has to be done regardless. One thing about disciplining oneself spiritually (for e.g. ensuring that prayers are said with full concentration) translates to discipline in the physical aspect of life. You find that if you’re a student, you can stay up later and burn the mid-night oil; if you’re trying to be healthier, you’ll find that you have more motivation to exercise and eat lighter, and so on. @ Eloxie, I love what you said about ‘Praying without ceasing.’ I advocate for that. I could be carrying out my daily activities while saying ‘thank you, Jesus’ under my breath. And it has helped a lot- it draws one closer to God because you are in constant conversation (prayer) with Him.

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