If the number of books that have been written about prayer is anything to go by, the experience and practice of prayer among Christians varies significantly. There are Christians who find prayer a natural thing for them to do and simply love to pray. They spend much time in prayer, pray for a wide range of people, situations and events, and are disciplined in prayer.
Another group of Christians know they should pray, and are pretty disciplined in having a regular time and place for prayer—but prayer can often feel like a duty rather than something they look forward to each day. There are also Christians for whom prayer features very little in their lives—at least until a crisis comes into their lives. Maybe you would describe your experience of prayer somewhere along this spectrum.
I know that I appreciate encouragement in growing in my lifelong discipline of prayer—and there is tremendous encouragement to be found in the Scriptures. I’m encouraged to not be anxious about anything but with an attitude of thankfulness to present my requests to God (Phil 4:6). I’m encouraged that when I am weak or don’t even know what to pray for a person or situation that I am not on my own, but have the Holy Spirit interceding on my behalf (Rom 8:26-27).
I’m encouraged by Jesus’ teaching on prayer to His disciples, where He begins simply by saying, “Father” (Luke 11:1). Commenting on this verse, Tim Chester, in his book You Can Pray, states that what Jesus is saying here is that prayer is simply the cry of a child to their father, asking him for help (p.16). It’s a lovely image of prayer, isn’t it? Of a small, utterly dependent child asking their father for help. The image, however, goes further than that. Because Christians are not just asking any father for help when they pray, but their Father in Heaven who loves them and desires to give good gifts to them in accordance with his will (Luke 11:11-13).
I don’t know what your experience of prayer is at the moment—whether it is a joy, a struggle, or somewhere in-between. Whatever it is, can I encourage you that we have a Father who longs to hear from us and help us. As dependent children, may we regularly access the help that our loving Heavenly Father offers to us through prayer.