I recently read a newsletter where a very honest individual (working full-time in prayer ministry) confessed tiredness in prayer itself. Reading this made me think: “But isn’t it wrong to be tired of praying? Or if we do feel tired, isn’t it somehow wrong to say so?” Then I remembered David’s words.
I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait [with confident expectation] for my God. Psalm 69:3 (Amplified Bible)
God has promised to give us joy in His house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7) but sometimes we can’t seem to find the joy promised. We may have started a season of prayer with great zeal, expectation and a sense of purpose – but as time goes by, and one prayer is joined to the next, zeal gives way to impatience, expectation to apathy and fulfillment to weariness. What is the answer to such a predicament? Would it be to take a holiday from praying? Obviously, we all realise that since God is life Himself, we would be in grave danger to distance ourselves, be it ever so slightly, from Him. Perhaps instead of taking a break from prayer, we may simply need to take a closer look at our motives for prayer. What made us pray to start with?
Personally, I find that there are several reasons for weariness in prayer. Below are a few I have discovered:
- Praying from a place of enthusiasm instead of calling ;
- Praying hard to prove ourselves to God ;
- Praying from a false sense of responsibility (“if I don’t pray this one prayer, the world will fall apart”) ;
- Not realizing that prayer is a process (and thus an answer may take time) ;
- Focusing on the problem and thus losing sight of God ;
- Praying for something God has finished with.
How can we exchange our weariness for joy? I believe a very simple and efficient way to increase our level of joy, is to draw near to God with no agenda! As we come to Him simply to meet heart to heart, our weariness evaporates. There are times when we need to stop the activities that we are engaged in and remember Jesus’ words to Martha: “…you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her”. (Luke 10:41-42 Amplified Bible)
In the psalm I quoted at the beginning of this text, the psalmist confesses that he is weary. Obviously, in itself, this is not wrong. This is human. However, the psalmist also knows the answer to his weariness. This is found further along in the psalmist’s prayer: “Do not hide Your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly.” Psalm 69:17 (Amplified Bible)
Instead of just asking for an answer to prayer, David knew that his first need was to see the face of God. As His face shines on us, we find ourselves being renewed. Our perspective shifts and our sense of purpose is sharpened. In the light of His face, problems lose weight. It no longer seems impossible to wait for God’s answer because in seeing His face we see His character. And every answer to prayer is an expression of who God is. So, instead of praying simply to see God’s hand at work, may we learn first to meet Him face to face.