The LORD says: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

“Dear God, please take care of my daddy, mommy, sister, brother, my doggy and me. Oh, please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we are going to be in a big mess.” My goal in this series on prayer is to keep it simple, pray like this child, who in few words expressed amazing truth in a very simple yet profound way.

When it comes to prayer, we find ourselves saying: “I do not know how to pray. I do not know what to pray for. I am too afraid to pray out loud.” We admit that each of us has our obstacles to a life of prayer. We may know the names of those who have written on prayer, but none of them can help us unless we pray. To help us move beyond obstacles of prayer, I am going to issue a simple challenge to each of us: Will we commit to pray at least five minutes a day for the next seven days? Will we commit to set aside time in our schedule, clear away all distractions, and make that time a priority? It’s only the activity of prayer that counts, not wishing or wanting to pray, but only doing it. So let’s partner and set aside time to “seek God with all our heart” in prayer - look for Him, learn to communicate with Him, be a person who prays. Remember, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak!”

The first obstacle to prayer is to talk about it, read about it, learn about it, study it and never actually do it. The second obstacle to prayer is lack of willingness to be a student (“learner”) of prayer. Students (“learners”) seek to master their subject matter and seek to be molded by it. The third obstacle to prayer is our expectations of prayer. We always hope God would show up through our words especially in difficult times so that we do not have to feel useless. However, sometimes we sense God saying to us, “the only time you are of any use to me is when you realize how useless you are. The more you can let go of yourself the more you can cling to me. And the more you cling to me, the more it will be me who will make a difference!” This feeling of insufficiency is essential in approaching God in prayer. If we have ever felt insufficient in prayer then I want to encourage us by saying – assuring us that the very feeling of insufficiency is the starting point of true prayer.

Once spiritual writer Henri Nouwen wrote in his diary: “Writing about prayer is often very painful since it makes you aware of how far away you are from the ideal you write about ... This week all I am reading and writing about is prayer. I am so busy with it and often so excited about it that I have no time left to pray ... While it is true that in order to pray you have to empty your heart and mind for God. Otherwise, prayer gets in the way of praying.”

So I invite us to partner in prayer - at least five minutes a day for the next seven days. Let’s not give in to the temptation to just hear a sermon or read a book on prayer and think we are growing in our prayer life. We won’t grow in prayer unless we pray! Our prayer life will get better only by praying!

Rev. Avedis Boynerian
Armenian Memorial Church, Watertown, USA