By Elder Lynette Shek
Last month, Pastor Beh and Elder Glen shared with the church the focus areas for Vision 2028. They rightly pointed out that prayer is where we need to start, because the church and its plans need to be birthed out of prayer. I struggle in my prayer life in that I do not pray much and it does not come naturally to me most of the time. I paused to think about what derails prayer for me and these are listed here in the hope that it helps us assess our own prayer lives.
1. Busyness. Singaporeans are busy people with so many activities and errands to run. This often comes at the cost of our spiritual, emotional and physical health. I remember reading a book about “Pause” and it stated that people in traditional cultures take time to pause because they want their souls to catch up! What a helpful reminder, that in our busy lives, we need our souls and hearts to be healthy, and what better way than to pause and connect with our loving Heavenly Father.
2. Struggles. I have had struggles at work, with my family and with my health. I find it hard to pray when life is not a bed of roses, especially if I do not feel well. I think that we need to pray for others and ourselves, that God will be merciful in the midst of suffering. But we also need to develop the muscle of faith, that what God promises, He will do. We can take one of the many verses that talk about God’s comfort (Matt 10:28, Ps 147:3), and pray these for ourselves.
3. Loneliness. Perhaps some of us feel that no one understands the depth of our souls and the pain in our hearts. We pray the same things again and again, and because we have no one to pray with or to hold accountable, we falter in our prayer life. May I encourage you to reach out to one person and start? With all the online messaging tools, this has become much easier. The church council, during the envisioning process for V2028, took time to pray via Zoom every fortnight and these prayer times were such a blessing. I have also been praying with my niece in Melbourne once a week, and this has held me accountable.
4. Tiredness. With busyness comes tiredness. We just want to do mind-numbing activities at the end of a long day such as playing online games or surfing the internet. There was a recent Salt & Light article about men who run and converse with God when they do. I have started trying to go for a stroll and talk with Jesus instead.
5. Shame. We often feel guilty that we do not pray enough, or some of us may think we are not eloquent in prayer. This is a lie that we have to reject, and instead embrace the truth that God knows us and loves us as we are and wants us to commune with Him.
6. Lack of faith. We do not believe that prayer is immensely powerful, and therefore we work from our own strength. In our hearts, we do not believe that God can do the difficult, let alone the impossible. We grow faint of heart, our words sound hollow and shallow and we start to feel hypocritical. Soon we give up because it feels like we are praying ineffectually. My dear friends, if this is true, ask the Lord to show you what to do.
It was said that George Muller woke up early regularly to pray, and totally depended on God to work through prayer. At the end of the day, it is all about believing and prioritizing. God has made us unique, and each of us have our own prayer journey. As the church desires to grow in prayer this year, make this your desire for this year as well. May we all grow in prayer, and as we do, I think we will find that we will also grow in love, faith and joy.