And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. - Luke 18:1
In this passage, prayer and not losing heart are connected. If you persist in prayer, you will not lose heart. If you have lost heart, it’s because you haven’t persisted in prayer. In other words, if you and I would just persist in fervent prayer to the Lord, we would never lose heart facing our current circumstances.
Before we go any further, we should pause and define losing heart - the term uses ‘heart’ in the sense of courage or spirit, so it means to lose your confidence or your courage. When we lose heart, we become discouraged, it’s the feeling that we will not be able to succeed at something. We’ve lost our peace, our purpose, our direction. We lose heart when we focus on the places the world tells us to find our treasure. Our culture emphasises the outward and the seen. The media is dominated by money, possessions, houses, cars, food, physical beauty and outward success. But scripture tells us our treasure is in Jesus. It stresses the importance of the inward and unseen aspects of our character: the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that determine our outward behavior. Our spirit fights the dissonance in our souls that comes from knowing He wants more for us when we give in to the ways of the world. This dissonance robs us of our peace, our strength, our courage to be all that He wants us to be, and we lose heart.
So, to keep from losing heart, we are to pray. But, we must understand there are all kinds of different prayers, and some bring more peace than others. Many of us have mastered the ‘arrow’ prayer, or those little prayers we shoot up to God throughout our day. This is the “pray with ceasing” referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - it is how we stay in constant communion with the Lord. Personally, I have a running dialogue in my head and I’m constantly checking in with Him, thanking Him, confessing to Him, submitting my requests to Him. But the truth is, while these ‘arrow’ prayers are important, they simple don’t yield the greatest peace. There are also the ritual or repeated prayer that many of us have memorized. While the words of the prayer can cause us to pause and reflect on the condition of our heart, they’re generally not spoken from the heart, but from some memorized place in our heads. Repeated prayers don’t yield the greatest peace.
Little prayers bring little peace, but big prayers bring big peace. Pastor James teaches us to prayer fervently, by yourself, on your knees, out loud, with a list. Why alone? Because it is just you and the Lord. There’s no putting on airs, no pretending. He sees all the way through you, and He can reveal truths to you when you’re alone that He simply can’t when you’re with others. Why on your knees? It is a posture of humility. Many of us struggle with control - we don’t trust it will go the way we want it to when we give up control, so we resist that posture of humility. God is sovereign, He will reign supreme in our lives whether we submit to Him or not. Getting on our knees demonstrates our hearts are willing to allow Him to take control. Why out loud and with a list? To keep us focused. Let’s be honest, when we’re alone, our brains wander. Speaking our prayers out loud keep us focused, and using a list reminds us of the things we want to pray for.
When you pray like this, your give the Holy Spirit a chance to flood your soul with an overwhelming sense of His peace. Think about where you have lost heart in your life, where are you lacking peace, courage, or confidence? Get on your knees and cry out to the Lord for that situation. But don’t just do it today, persist in it. Every single day. We lose heart when we don’t persist in prayer about those things that are weighing on our hearts.
As I said, I have an open dialogue with the Lord, so I have mastered the “arrow” prayers. I am in constant communion with the Lord, but those prayers are not the ones that bring me the deepest sense of peace. It’s when I get low, on my knees, and I cry out to Him with my sorrows, that I find His courage, His peace, and His comfort. I wish I could tell you I do this every single day, but I can’t. Admittedly, there are days when my prayer time is nothing more than an extended “arrow” prayer. I can tell you it’s an area I’m currently working on growing - I’ve committed to at least once a day to get on my knees alone with Him. I’m also trying to pay more attention to the condition of my heart. Now, whenever I feel I am losing heart, it’s triggering me to recognize I need to get alone and get on my knees as soon as possible. Before I go to anyone else, I get alone and on my knees. And by doing that, I am finding His strength and peace to continue in this battle.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
Many of you know I have been trying to raise money to replace the uncomfortable caregiver's chairs in the infusion center at Illinois Cancer Specialists. It is important to me that our caregivers are able to sit comfortably for hours while we receive our chemo treatments ~ we need our caregivers to be at their best so they can care for us at our worst. Please consider donating ~ every little bit helps! Here is the link:
https://www.gofundme.com/chair4caregivers. Thank you so much!!
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