What should you do when you know you should spend some time in prayer, but you are too tired, too busy, too distracted, or feeling unmotivated to pray? Since this has happened to me, I wanted to give you two practical steps to help jump-start your prayer time.
Jesus explained to His disciples the problem is that “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41b). You may recall that the context of this verse is that Jesus said those words in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked the disciples to pray, yet they kept falling asleep.
Just like the disciples, our flesh is weak. I’d like to suggest trying something that might sound a bit crazy. Talk to your flesh! When you don’t feel like getting up a few minutes early to pray, say, “Flesh, you are getting up and spending time with God even if you don’t feel like it.” When I’m at the end of an exhausting day and all I want to do is collapse in bed, I say to myself, “Nicole, you will take time to pray tonight.” Sometimes spending time in prayer is a joy and other times it can feel like a discipline. But whenever I do make the choice to pray, I am always glad I did so afterwards. And so is the Lord!
You know who else talked to their flesh? David and the other writers of the Psalms said:
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God” (Ps. 43:5, NLT)!
“With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng” (Ps. 109:30).
“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you” (Ps. 118:28).
We see from the Psalms that sometimes we need to counsel or reason with our own hearts. This is especially true during seasons of discouragement or sadness.
Martin Lloyd Jones, a British doctor turned preacher during the twentieth century once asked, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
When our flesh is telling us we are too tired or that our prayers don’t really matter, talk to yourself and remind yourself to pray anyway. As you fill your mind with truth from the Word of God and persist in prayer, you will see that even though your flesh is weak, your spirit is strong.
Find a Prayer Partner
Going back to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked His closest friends to watch and pray with Him. If Jesus, God with flesh, Immanuel, asked His friends to pray for Him during some of His darkest moments, how much more do we need prayer partners today?!
Another encouragement I have for you when your desire to pray is waning, is to get a prayer partner. My friend Kelly and I have been praying for each other over the last four years and I can say it has been life changing! She prays for me and sends me verses on days that are long or difficult and I do the same for her. When I get tired of praying for someone or something, I ask Kelly to help shoulder that burden in prayer.
Another reason we should have a prayer partner is that God has a special promise associated with group prayer. He said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20). Wow! Who will you ask to pray with and for you?
The next time you don’t feel like praying, don’t beat yourself up about it or think that you are the only one who struggles to persevere in prayer. Now we know we can tell ourselves, “Too bad flesh, I will pray today.” Just like the psalmist modeled, even when we are discouraged, we can say, “I will put my hope in God.”
In addition, as you go before the throne of grace with and on behalf of your prayer partner, it won’t be long until you start gaining momentum and a renewed passion to pray. How do I know? From experience!
Lord, for Your glory and our good, may we be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Rom. 12:12). In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Update on my mom:
For those of you have been praying for my mom, she will continue her current immunotherapy and hormone therapy for the next three months. Please keep praying for her full healing!