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The Joy of Prayer

"The Joy of Praying" by Pastor Jack

There are few things that Satan is as determined to sabotage as sincere, earnest, trustful prayer. He doesn’t mind so much if we just talk about prayer, as long as we don’t actually do it. And he is happy for us to pray prayers that are boastful (like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9ff.) or selfish (like the prayers referred to in James 4:3) or mechanical/formulaic (which Jesus condemns in Matt.6:7). But he knows that when the children of God call out from their hearts to their heavenly Abba Father, big things begin to happen, and so he is therefore desperate to prevent it in any way he can. This is why there is such a close connection between spiritual warfare and prayer in the NT.

There are a number of ingredients necessary for faithful prayer. We have to have no confidence in our flesh to get us through. We have to really believe God has the power to fulfill our needs. We have to really believe that God loves us and wants the best for us. We have to really believe that God listens to His children when they cry out to Him. When we have all these things, prayer ceases to be a chore and becomes a joy. And when prayer becomes a joy, we know that we are getting closer to having the mind of Christ, closer to seeing things as they really are, closer to desiring the things which are truly desirable.

For many of us, the problem with our prayers is that we don’t ask for what we want, we ask for what we think we should ask for. And it is no wonder our prayers aren’t desperate and fervent but boringly tame. I’m not saying that we should ask for whatever we desire. It would certainly be sinful to pray for something we sinfully desire. But, on the other hand, if we don’t pray for things we truly desire, how will our prayers ever be sincere, ardent, intense and heartfelt?

Desires are not just there residing in our hearts. Desires are cultivated and developed and nurtured. If we begin with a little desire, it can develop into a stronger desire by God’s grace through prayer. For example, we feel sorry for our sin, but we know we’re not sorry enough. So we use our desire to feel more sorry as fuel to pray, "Lord, help me to see the ugliness of my sin. Give me a broken and contrite spirit.(Psalm 51) Help me to cleanse my hands and purify my double-minded heart. Help me be wretched and mourn and weep. Let my laug’ hter be turned to mourning and my joy to gloom. Humble me before You, O Lord. (James 4:6-11)" We’ve got to start where we are, recognizing that even if our righteous desires are too weak, they are given to us by God and should be used to bring petitions before God.