Why Does Prayer Seems Like WorK?

Sometimes we worry about our life, wondering if it will fall apart. The reasons can be numerous, from something just in our minds to global concerns. At that point, it is essential to recall that our life is held in Christ and will never fall apart.

September 5, 2022

Sometimes we worry about our life, wondering if it will fall apart. The reasons can be numerous, from something just in our minds to global concerns. At that point, it is essential to recall that our life is held in Christ and will never fall apart. Let us not be fooled by our vision because our life is held together by the power of God’s Word.

Colossians 1: 17 (ESV) – And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Over the past weeks, we have been learning about the importance of prayer and how to pray effectively. But often, prayer seems like hard work. It is important to understand that prayer is not effortless but leads us to an effortless lifestyle.

An effortless lifestyle is not one where we don’t put effort into doing things. But an effortless lifestyle is one where we won’t have to carry the burden or stress of our efforts. In other words, an effortless life is a stress-free life. It may look like we are pushing our boundaries, yet it is effortless because we are not the ones who are taking the stress of it.

Prayer can lead us into stress-free and restful living.

Effort to Rest

Hebrews 4: 11 (ESV) – Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

The verse above sounds self-contradicting. We make every effort in prayer to begin to operate from the place of rest. Our life starts from the place where we know that we are loved and our life is held together in Christ. And Christ, in His abundance of grace, welcomes us to partake in his rest. However, it takes effort in prayer to reach this place of rest, where we are aware that God loves us. We have to make certain labour in prayer to lead an effortless life.

Labour in Prayer to Soar

For instance, when an aeroplane takes off, gravity tries to pull it down. But since the aircraft is designed to fly, it fights this law of gravity to fly. As the plane starts moving towards higher altitudes, gravity loses its grip over it, and the plane soars smoothly. Once it stops operating from the law of gravity and starts functioning in the law of aerodynamics, the aeroplane decides when to land. In prayer, there is a place where we can go so high that nothing can hold us back. This place is exactly where our lives become effortless. When people look at our lives, they should wonder how we can do so many things in life so effortlessly. Prayer is good, and it is a privilege for us. Every moment that we spend in prayer, we accelerate towards our destiny. Prayer is not a waste of time. The time, money and energy we spend in the ministry of Word and ministry of Prayer are more precious than gold and silver.

The Illusion of Knowing the Best

2 Peter 1: 3 (ESV) – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

This verse makes it clear that God’s divine power has given us access to everything that pertains to life and godliness. And we can only access those things through the knowledge of God; that is, the more we know God, the more we walk in power and authority. Only the knowledge of God can give us the confidence to walk as sons and daughters of God and access all that we have in Christ. We live in the illusion that we know ourselves the best. However, it is wise to learn that the creator knows the creation better than the creation itself. So when we know the Creator, we know who we are. We will know what He has blessed us with; that is about our possessions in Christ. Though we have everything we need to live a life of godliness on this earth, we don’t know how to access it. It’s like someone who has a huge amount of money in the bank account but does not understand how to withdraw it. Our blessings are pointless if we are unaware of accessing it. It is neither our works, prayers or holiness that has blessed us with everything; instead, it is the power of God. By knowing God through prayer, we get access to everything.

Intimacy in Knowing Christ

The essence of prayer is intimacy, where we say, “Into me, oh Lord, I let you see.” Every time we pray, we open our hearts for God to see us, and God responds to us by letting us see Him. And every time we pray, we get to know Him, and we get to know who we are in Christ. We all are sure about our position in Adam. It is not difficult for us to draw our identity from anger issues, lust issues, and every sinful identity from Adam. However, that knowledge is insufficient as Christians, and we need to know our identity in Christ. And for this, we need to know Christ. Christ is the only prototype of who we should be; therefore, finding ourselves in Him is mandatory.

When Jesus came, He not only revealed the Father to us but also revealed who we are. Jesus came in human form to show us what it means to be a human. We know ourselves and what God has in store for us when we know God. And this knowledge is not something we gain in the future, but right now. The next thing we need is not another blessing but a revelation that we are already blessed in Christ today. Imagine if God could open our eyes and see that everything we were praying for was with us. We might feel silly and ridiculously stupid about the fights and arguments, the jealousy, the backbiting, etc. That’s why when we get to heaven; we will be crying looking at the life we lived on earth, where though God has blessed us so much, we failed to access it.

Ritualistic versus Intentional

Prayer is knowing God. And as we know God, we know ourselves. As we open our hearts and God opens His. Our desires become His desires, and His desires become ours. Prayer is work and effort because it requires our minds to be intentionally focused but it opens the door to access the knowledge of God. Imagine a couple who decide to go on dates every Tuesday. The first Tuesday was beautiful and they start looking forward to the next one. But as time passes by, it becomes more ritualistic and not out of love. Now as the man sits with his wife, he has got so used to behaving a certain way that he may be saying the right words and gestures but his mind is not in it. How would we feel if we were in the other person’s place? We might want to leave right away. As praying becomes habitual, this is a warning as well as an encouragement that we might reach a place where our gestures and postures might be right but our mind is not in it. That’s why prayer involves work because we have to bring our minds back to focus the moment we get distracted. It’s okay to get distracted but engaging our minds back to prayer is what gets us deliverance.

When we pray in tongues our mind is idle because we don’t know what we are praying and it gets distracted easily. But we need to take out time when we are intentional to engage our minds in prayer. It takes hard work to be intentional to let God look into our lives. And at the same time, we need to be intentional to bring back our mind into prayer every time it gets distracted. So that we are not caught up in the habit of doing it but are intentional to pray. We experience deliverance when we pray in spirit and mind. It is absolutely fine to get distracted as long as we bring our focus back to Prayer. Because there will come a time when these distractions will lose the grip of the mind and we will be able to take flight in our spirit. Our minds will be free and nothing will hold us down.

Nature of God’s Promises

We need to know the gravity that is pulling us back to fight against it.

2 Peter 1: 4 (ESV) – by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Peter could have just written that God has granted us His promises, but he uses the adjectives 1. Very Precious and 2. Great. The devil deceived Adam and Eve into eating the fruit to become like God. And here Peter is saying that we can become partakers of His divine nature by just establishing ourselves on His promises. What Adam and Eve yearned for in the garden, we get it as God’s promise in Jesus.

Definition of divine nature:

God’s divine nature is not to escape the world but to escape the corruption of the world. Our focus should not be on escaping a sinful world. Anyone who is born of God cannot sin (1 John 3: 9). So our sinful habits and practices can stop now because when we partake in God’s divine nature, we escape the corruption of the world. Corruption is not limited to just bribery. Corruption here means the decay that leads to death.

Sinful Desire Corrupts

The ‘decay that leads to death’ is because of sinful desires. Our sinful desire is what is distracting us in our prayers. Paul says, from one man sin came and death came to all men (Romans 5: 12). This one sin came from a desire.

Genesis 3: 6 (ESV) – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Eve’s desire was to become wise. Even before eating the fruit, the desire to be like God corrupted Eve. But how is the desire to be wise wrong?

James 1: 13 (ESV) – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

God never tempts us. The temptation that we face today is the product of our selfish desires.

James 1: 14-15 (ESV) – But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The seed of sin is sinful desire. If we can learn how to abort sinful desires, sin cannot be conceived and we can live a victorious life.

Discerning Desires

Desires in essence are not bad, instead they are powerful. And all desires are not sinful. Jesus said, whatever we desire, if we ask from Him, He will give it to us. Psalms 37: 4 (ESV) quotes, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’ God wants us to desire. Desire is a God-given ability. A person who stops desiring or dreaming is dead. For instance, when we look at retired people, most of them are looking forward to die because they have no purpose in life and their ability to dream has died. Every dream that we have may not be sinful, rather it could be from God. It is our desires give us the ability to believe for what we desire. Our desires can even be our prayers. A christian life doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have any desires. We have to learn to discern what sinful desire is We all have some desires in our lives. For instance, a couple’s desire for a new car. It might not be a need. But we have a God who goes beyond our needs. We need to get out of this need mindset that God will only give us when we have the need for it. God is a lavish giver, only if we knew how to we draw from our heavenly treasure.

Story of the alabaster jar

A sinful woman comes to Jesus and breaks open the alabaster jar which was very precious and could be sold for a lot of money. Judas looks at her and sighs. He claims that it would have been better if it was sold for money as if he was concerned about the poor which he was not. If anyone tells us that we should give our money to the poor, its not because they are concerned about the poor, but they are jealous of us. We have such a lack mindset that we fail to believe that the God who supplied others will supply us too abundantly. God is a God of abundance and not frugality. We can challenge each other and testify through scriptures that the Bible talks the least about frugality. Abraham was so rich that nations were scared of him. The Philistines were scared of Isaac that they requested him to move out of their territory.

Abundance is our portion.

As we read Deuteronomy 28, it begins with the blessings that God is going to bless us with, but it ends by quoting that ‘in prosperity, we will be prosperous.

Genesis 26: 12-13 (ESV) – And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13 and the man became rich and gained more and more until he became very wealthy.

Prosperity is in the Bible. Some people might have skewed the message of prosperity to manipulate people for money but that does not negate the fact that God wants us to be prosperous. Biblical prosperity is not just financial prosperity. Money is the least currency in biblical prosperity. The highest form of currency is relationship. There is no point of having 10 billion dollars in our accounts when we don’t get to experience soul prosperity where there is no peace, no satisfaction, no contentment or joy. Biblical prosperity is prosperity in all aspects of our lives . There are so many people who have a lot of money but they are poor. Prosperity is not just having things but knowing God. So, not every desire is bad. We have to be mindful of the desire that is holding us back from partaking in the divine nature of God.

Sinful Desires

Genesis 3: 1 (ESV) – Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

We need to compare this conversation to what God actually said in the previous chapter. Why Does Prayer Seem Like Work? Ps Samuel Thomas, Lighthouse

Genesis 2: 16-17 (ESV) – And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam and Eve were not instructed to not eat of any tree but to eat of every tree, only leaving out the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.

Genesis 3: 2-3 (ESV) – And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Additionally to that, Eve’s response was exaggerated as she mentioned about not even touching it lest she die, because God never said that. Sinful desire begins when we stop believing that God is abundant and good. If the devil can steal the word from us that God is abundant, the devil can influence us to have a sinful desire in our lack. Sinful desire is having a desire from a place of lack and believing that God is not good for us. God allowed Adam and Eve to eat of any tree, and forbid them from just one. And the devil comes to steal that Word from them and decieves them by putting in their heads that God has restricted them from eating of any tree. He is trying to bring shame, guilt and condemnation.

The limitations that we put in God’s goodness is what causes us to have sinful desires.

In Luke 4, Jesus was tempted by the Devil. A few hours earlier, Jesus just received the Word that He is God’s beloved son and the devil immediately attacks His identity. The devil questions Jesus if He was sure enough to know that God is good to call Him His son. Because when we doubt God’s goodness, we stop believing in Him. And from that place of unbelief, if we have any desire which could even be praying, would hold us down. Christ died so that we can partake in the divine nature of God. Our sinful desire is what is holding us back in our prayers and that sinful desire comes from a place where we believe that God is good but not that good. And this desire conceives sin and when sin grows, it leads to death.

Antidote to unbelief

Romans 2: 4 (ESV) – Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

With reference to 2 Peter 1: 3-4, every promise of God declare His goodness. Through those promises, when we encounter the goodness of God, we get to partake of God’s divine nature. The antidote to sinful desire is to establish ourselves in the goodness of God. Beyond what we see, or what is coming against us, we must believe that God is good and his mercies endure forever.

As we establish ourselves in the goodness of God, we begin to operate in the law of aerodynamics which helps us to take the flight. The law of aerodynamics is superior to the law of gravity. So the question here is not ‘whether we can fly or not’ because we have to fly when we operate in the law of aerodynamics. The question here rises ‘when will we fly?’. We will fly when we stay in the law of aerodynamics, and the law of aerodynamics beats the law of gravity. And as we start flying the law of gravity has no hold over us. Similarly, as we establish ourselves in the goodness of God, we start operating in the law of the spirit of life. The law of the spirit of power and life is superior to the law of the spirit of sin and death. So as we operate in the law of the spirit of life and take flight, the law of the spirit of sin and death has no power over us.

Additionally, we have to learn to personalize the promises of God in our lives. We need to have a picture that personalizes our life, where we not only say that God is good all the time but look at our life and affirm that God has always been good as we often forget what we have been blessed with.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

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