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Beating Prayer Fatigue

Have you ever stopped praying because you have lost heart, or feel like you’re just repeating yourself, or wonder if God really hears you and your words just bounce off the ceiling? Does this feeling ever make you wonder if God is even there, if he even exists?

What you may be experiencing is something called, “Prayer Fatigue.” You’re tied, feel drained, disheartened, and you wonder if God will even pay attention. Yet, there are many times, especially in the Psalms, where the Psalmist wonders the same thing. They ask God when he will answer or move or if he even listens.

Today, I have some good news. You can beat your prayer fatigue with a simple exercise in scripture that will refocus your attention and address God in the most important ways and from your heart. At first, it may seem like a routine thing to do. But, with a little work in prayer you can find that your prayer fatigue will not only go away, you may find a new, fresh, meaningful way to pray. And it happens when you start praying according to Matthew 6. What do you find there? Here it is:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever” (Matthew 6:9-13). 

Sometimes when we pray we feel frustrated and don’t know what to say. We encourage ourselves with a phrase from the Apostle Paul who said, “[The] Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). We tell ourselves that it’s okay if we don’t know what to say because the Holy Spirit is praying on our behalf anyway. So, we stop trying so hard. But, I don’t think that this is what Paul meant to communicate when he penned those words. Certainly, God doesn’t want us to stop praying. Paul also said, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). 

When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray it was because they saw other teachers giving prayer instruction to their disciples.  Jesus gave them something short, but exceedingly profound. The Lord’s Prayer, as it has come to be known, was not only great instruction for the disciples, Jesus also used it himself in John 17. If you compared the two passages of scripture you will see in John 17 a model of Matthew 6. If Jesus used the Lord’s Prayer when he approached his father, how much more do we need it!

So, how do you pray the Lord’s Prayer beyond just repeating the words as they are written? Look at how the Lord’s Prayer can help you by using it as a guideline for all of your prayers. Consider this:

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” Lord, I come to you because you are the one and only great God. Your name and identity is beyond all I can imagine. You are the creator of all things and your name deserves to be made known and spread the world over.

Think through how else God’s name can be praised in your life and is magnified in the things you see around you. 

“Your kingdom come.” Lord, please make me effective in advancing your kingdom on earth. I want to be an example of what it means to believe in Jesus and help others come to know him and fall in love with him.

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When you speak the angels obey you. Nothing can defeat your will. Help me to obey you. Please Lord, also help my family and friends who don’t know you to come to know you and obey you as well. 

As you pray through each statement in the Lord’s Prayer, look for ways to related it to your life experience and relationships. Just as the Holy Spirit prays for you and with you when you struggle, so too, he will pray with you when you pray according to the outline in the Lord’s prayer. I use the Lord’s Prayer many times when approaching God. I know that he hears me when I pray according to his will and his words. When I started using the Lord’s Prayer it transformed my thinking and the way I approach God. The same can be true for you as well.

Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as Global English Station Manager for Trans World Radio. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies, and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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