Jesus is our tutor and example in all things, and nowhere is that more clear than in our prayer lives. It is no exaggeration to say that prayer undergirded and preceded and empowered everything that our Lord did while He walked on this earth. He frequently spoke about prayer and even more frequently taught by example.
How glad I am that He is still in the business of teaching His children how to pray! Although I have prayed since childhood, my praying habits have changed a great deal in the past few years. There is something different and new about my praying these days--and it is not hard at all to identify the reason for the change. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and very quickly prayer took on new meaning for me. I discovered a dimension to prayer that I had never known before. Jesus enrolled me in His intensive course on prayer and I became an eager learner.
And what lesson struck home with most force? I discovered something that had been true all along, even though I had not thought much about it. I discovered I was helpless without God! That was the beginning of the adventure for me.
I learned how to pray out of desperation. For most of us, this is how the adventure usually begins. When we finally get serious about prayer, the trigger is usually desperation, not duty.
At least initially, serious prayer is almost always driven by necessity. We don't pray because we ought, we pray because we are without any other recourse. I think God likes to see His people coming to Him in desperation and casting themselves upon His mercy!
Could it be that one reason we have great problems is that God wants to show us great solutions? He longs to show us the riches of His grace and the poverty of our own resources. Prayer is uniquely designed to demonstrate both truths.
Yet at the same time, we must remember that prayer is not a natural activity. It has been well said that prayer is stupid when viewed in the purely human realm. I remember the day I realized why it was so hard for me to pray I wrote this down in my Bible: "Prayer is my Declaration of Dependence."
For a go-getter, type A, driven person (like me), prayer is the most difficult thing of all because it flies in the face of our frantic efforts to prove that we are self-sufficient, independent, and strong. We somehow forget that 'the difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won't enlist you in his service unless you are healthy, and Jesus won't enlist you unless you are sick.' 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners' (Mark 2:17).
My bout with cancer taught me a lot. The fears and desperation which forced me to my knees taught me to cry out
to God as never before. And do you know what? He heard! He answered! He delivered me from all my fears! And He desires to do the same for you." - from the Introduction.