From visiting tours through India and Sri Lanka with my wife Ruth, we are finding increasing numbers of people who feel spiritually starved by the false religions and philosophies of this world, ruled by a hate-filled Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4). They are eager to "seek God while He may be found" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
One lady with many difficult trials, who is earnestly seeking God, said to me recently on our visit to Sri Lanka: "I find it hard to pray. I want to seek God, but how can I overcome and find it easier to pray?"
Have you ever felt that way, too? I think this lady's question touches a common nerve in many of us. It's easy to have a natural aversion or procrastination toward praying to God.
Is there a secret key to unlocking aversion to prayer—an answer to this lady's difficulty, which is common to many of us?
Not mere duty, but a privilege and joy
Prayer sometimes seems to people to be a bit like bodily exercise in experiencing the benefit: Once you get started, it feels good. And once you've finished, you feel even better. But getting started is sometimes difficult.
What was it that really stimulated and helped faithful servants of God like Joshua, Esther, David, Hannah, Daniel and Anna to pray to God?
Was it because they looked at prayer as a duty to perform, some type of obligation or an assignment to struggle through?
Or did they instead view prayer as a privilege, a loving talk with our loving, all-understanding God, an opportunity to communicate with our affectionate Father and our Savior Jesus, His Son?
Perhaps sometimes we don't truly believe God really knows and cares about us individually and desires to listen to us. We may intellectually know God cares for us, but do we really believe He does?
Faithful men and women of the past came to that reality. Surely we can too!
Yet there was a deeper understanding—a secret key that motivated them in their prayers. What was it?
Approaching God in the right way
God, like any parent, wants to hear thoughts, words and actions of heartfelt love, thanks and requests from His children. Those of us who are parents want warm and loving communication with our children. Wouldn't God, the ultimate Father, desire that with you and me?
There is a tremendous amount of fulfillment in knowing that God is always there to guide us for our asking?
But, we should consider, is there a way of asking, seeking and knocking that God will not hear? And is there a way to ask, seek and knock that God will hear? Is there a secret to our asking, seeking and knocking (Matthew 7:7) and reaching God in prayer?
God is pleased with those who faithfully serve Him and will listen when they pray for others. He tells us in James 5:16: "Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
This scripture lets us know how important prayer is and that, though we are only human, God will honor the prayers of a righteous or faithful person who lives by His laws and principles of life (see also 1 John 3:22).
Now, is there a secret that enables this principle expressed by the apostle James to really work in our prayers?
Yes there is! And this secret involves something that, sadly, not many people express in their prayers. Let's read a few scriptures and see if we can grasp this helpful secret to engaging in prayer.
What motivated servants of God to pray?
What was an important motivating force for Joshua to pray?
Notice Joshua 22:5: "But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul [or being]" (emphasis added throughout).
Notice also Joshua 23:11: "Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God."
Let's consider another faithful servant of God, King David. What inspired and motivated him to pray?
Notice Psalm 18:1: "I will love You, O Lord, my strength."
And Psalm 31:23: "O love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud [arrogant] person."
And also Psalm 145:20: "The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy."
And what key inspired the prophet Daniel and helped make it easier for him to pray?
Notice Daniel 9:4: "And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, 'O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments.'"
What inspired Jesus Christ and motivated His close relationship with the Father?
See what He affirmed in Matthew 22:37: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." And as for Himself, He explained: "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do" (John 14:31).
Declaring our love to God
In the examples above, the key to a powerful prayer life was verbally expressing love toward God.
Loving God detoxifies our minds from Satan, this world and our human nature. Loving God energizes us and motivates us to pray and lovingly follow His laws and way of life.
That's why it's so good for us, in the morning and as soon as possible in our daily prayers, to tell God we love Him as our Father and that we love Jesus Christ as our guiding Savior, Advocate and Elder Brother.
A great secret is to actually think and speak the words in prayer, from our heart and mind: "I love you, God our Father, and Your Son Jesus, my Lord and Savior."
It is a beautiful way to awake in the morning, quietly thinking of God and telling Him how much we love Him. This is an exquisite way to start our day in the best possible way and it leads us to then pray more easily.
From expressing our love to God, prayer then naturally flows to repentance and asking forgiveness of our sins and to seeking Him for help, guidance, wisdom and strength, through God's Spirit, in keeping His commandments and showing our deep love to Him and to others.
From my personal experience, I know that one prayer that God always hears and mercifully answers is a sincere prayer of repentance for our sins (1 John 1:9; 1 John 3:4).
Of course, our words will prove sincere by our actions in life. In 1 John 5:2-3 God tells us how to love Him and others: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."
Start each day on the right track
If we pray in love to God and read a chapter or two from the Bible each morning, we can be certain our day will go well for us, because we are close to our Father and are seeking His loving guidance and wisdom in our decision-making and in all we do in our lives.
Then throughout the day and into the evening before we go to bed, it's good to be lovingly mindful of God and how He desires us to live by His laws and way of life, which produces blessings for us.
Letting God know in our thoughts and words with Him that we love Him and are thankful for His love for us is a great secret in stimulating our relationship with Him, stirring up God's Spirit within us to motivate us to keenly pray and do God's will.
This, then, is a great secret stimulation to enriching our prayer life—telling God every day how much we love Him!