Sometimes, the hardest thing in the world is to start praying.
We want to feel in the right mood. We want to feel spiritual. Even holy. So, we put it off. We delay.
Richard Foster, in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, sympathizes with us. Here’s how he puts it:
I used to think that I needed to get all my motives straightened out before I could pray, really pray …
And so I would determine never to pray again until my motives were pure. You understand, I did not want to be a hypocrite. I knew that God is holy and righteous. I knew that prayer is no magic incantation. I knew that I must not use God for my own ends. But the practical effort of all this internal soul-searching was to completely paralyze my ability to pray. (8)
Then, Foster says he discovered this important insight about prayer:
The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives – altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the pure from the impure.
But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith, or anything. That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well. And we pray by it. (8)
He concludes with this thought:
This is precisely how it is with prayer. We will never have pure enough motives, or be good enough, or know enough in order to pray rightly.
We simply must set all these things aside and begin praying.
In fact, it is in the very act of prayer itself – the intimate, ongoing interaction with God – that these matters are cared for in due time. (8)
In essence, what I hear Foster saying is this: We will never be holy enough to start praying. So, don’t wait till you feel holy to pray. Pray because you need the God who can make you holy.
We don’t pray because we feel holy or spiritual. It’s as we pray that we become holy and spiritual.
The key is to just start praying. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. Don’t put it off any longer. Just pray. Start now.
The moment we start, God can begin to work His grace more fully into our hearts. The longer we delay, the longer it will take for God to get His grace into us.
So, just do it. Just pray. Begin now.