When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer by Kevin Halloran. P&R Publishing. 160 pages. 2021
To prepare to write this practical guide on prayer, the author examined his own struggles with prayer, and surveyed about a hundred other believers to learn theirs. He searched the scriptures, read many books on prayer and researched enduring practices for growing in prayer. The multiyear process transformed him. This book is the fruit of that process.
In the book he includes quotes and stories from believers, past and present, to show how they have overcome their struggles and grown in their love for God. He concludes each chapter with a prayer and helpful Questions for Reflection.
He begins this book by looking at each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Among the other subjects covered in the book are ways for Scripture to guide us in prayer, guilt, steps for cultivating a gospel mindset in prayer, sinful motives in prayer, methods that can help us focus better in prayer, being intentional in taking advantage of the gift of prayer, simple systems to help you pray more faithfully, God-given ways to fight anxiety in prayer, and tactics for prayer in our busy lives.
The author covers a lot in this short book. He doesn’t expect you to remember and practice all that he suggests. Rather, his recommendation is to think of the top two or three struggles you face in prayer and focus on growing in those areas. Then, when facing one of the other nine struggles in the future, pull the book off your shelf and refresh your memory with how to move forward.
The book also has an Appendix which includes a few helpful places to get started when praying Scripture, specifically praying Scriptural prayers, and “Suggested Resources for Going Deeper in Prayer”.
Everyone experiences some struggles in their prayer life. I highly recommend this new book for the practical suggestions to help with those struggles.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- We struggle to pray because we have a desire to pray. If we didn’t have the desire, we wouldn’t have a struggle.
- You can’t overcome any struggle in prayer without both faith in God and a love for Him.
- When we don’t have clarity about why we pray, the what (the content of our prayers) and how (the way of praying) will suffer.
- Prayer to the God of the Bible is more than an exercise of the imagination, it’s communication with the God who has all power and authority over the universe, and yet cares for us.
- We don’t feel like praying unless a trial or major need brings us to our knees, and then once the trial passes or the need is provided for, we go back to our forgetful ways.
- In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gave the disciples the basic grid of what to pray. What we may not realize is this prayer contains the why behind prayer as well.
- God’s provision won’t always look as we expect or come in our timing, but we can be confident God wouldn’t teach us to pray for provision if He wasn’t willing and able to provide exactly what we needed.
- Prayer is a journey to God’s heart, to know Him, to plead His help and to conform ourselves to His will.
- Taking hold of God’s great promises in the gospel gives us confidence in prayer: confidence that Christ’s blood has washed away our sins and confidence that because of Him, our Father hears us.
- God always answers our prayers, but often doesn’t answer in the timing we want or the ways we prefer. Answers may come as a “Yes” a “No” or a “Wait”.
- God doesn’t want us to pray to manipulate Him into accomplishing our will. He wants to mold us to the image of His Son and hear us cry from the heart “Your will be done!”
- We should weigh every prayer and every motive against God’s Word. When we are clearly at odds with the Word, we need to repent. When we aren’t sure, we need to ask God to reveal sin in us and consider what negative desires and powerful emotions may warp our prayers.
- Effective prayers pray what God wants us to pray. We can pray as a direct response to Scripture or let Scriptural truth inform what we pray for.
- Remembering Who you pray to is just as important as the words of your prayers because your view of God shapes your prayers and molds your heart, for better or for worse.