The Burden Of Prayer
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” - Matthew 7:7
The Need for a Prayer Life
There is absolutely no argument about the need for prayer in the life of a new covenant believer. The need for prayer, exhortations to pray, and the benefits of prayer fill the texts of Scripture. We need not debate the powerful results that prayer can provide. There is no quarrel about the fact that the Scripture calls believers to be a people of prayer. There is no end to the number of Scriptures that declare God’s willingness to act on our behalf as the result of prayer. This article will certainly reinforce these truths as these facts stand self-evident and solid. What I hope to successfully address is the unfortunate manner in which Christians can move from the act of praying into the state of faith in the act of prayer. Let me explain.
Unknowingly Changing the Object of Faith
Just recently I traveled through a circumstance of life that I felt required constant attention in prayer to see the desired conclusion reached. I committed the situation to the Lord each and every day, sometimes several times a day. I wanted to be sure that I had not failed to properly ascertain the Lord’s will and that the Lord’s will would be carried out. I can gladly say that the situation was resolved and the result was positive. However, I found that by the end of the circumstance, I was spiritually and physically worn out.
Somewhere along the path I began to trust and depend upon the act of prayer and failed to trust in the Lord and His ability to respond to prayer. When this happens, the believer shifts the object of his faith from the Lord to the act of praying. Granted, this is a very fine line, but it will make all the difference as to how we travel through the circumstance we are lifting up to the Lord. In essence, what I had done was to change the object of my faith from Christ and His covenant provision to my action, which in this case, was prayer.
My Yoke is Easy, My Burden is Light
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
His address was to a people who had labored to enter as well as maintain a relationship with God. Faith was not the primary essence of their efforts regarding relationship. Instead, it was the works they did. This burden was a weight that no man could constantly bear up under. It also negated the approach by faith that God had always required of man since the fall.
Faith has always been a prerequisite to a relationship with God. To labor and become heavy laden is the opposite of rest and faith. It is one thing to operate under a burden of prayer. This would be proper when we feel the need to pray in regard to a specific circumstance or situation. But when we begin to believe that our prayer and the act of praying is what ultimately supplies the victory, then we are eliminating faith in the one we are praying to.
In prayer, I am to cast all my care upon the Lord. In essence, I take that burden, that need, that request, and I hand it to the Lord. He takes care of it. He handles it. He moves on my behalf as the result of my asking. If my prayer is offered in faith, then it must also be handed off to the Lord by faith. I will experience a “yoke.” I will sense a “burden.” Yet Christ’s burden is promised to be light and His yoke is assured to be easy. I am required to believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Therefore, after I have prayed, I should walk in the assurance that God is moving on my behalf. To not sense this relief from prayer is a great indicator that I may be depending on myself more than I am the Lord.
Opposition to Prayer
I do not mean to say or teach that prayer is always simple or easy. Prayer can be greatly opposed. Prayer can be very difficult to enter into. One must shut down the mind surrounding the circumstances and seek God to first determine His will. After knowing His will, we should cry out for God’s assistance in achieving that purpose. Satan will try to oppose prayer on every level.
Neither do I teach that prayer for a circumstance should be offered only once and then that issue never be brought up again before the Lord. That does not reflect a sturdy faith, as some teach it does. I may need to bring a specific issue before the Lord every day until that particular circumstance is resolved. But again, when I find myself bringing the need to the Lord and then continuing to carry the burden upon myself, something is seriously off.
In my case, I was not resting in who Christ was and what Christ had done for me on Calvary. Faith that God has heard and is responding in a manner that is best for me should lift the burden of the circumstance from off my shoulders, heart, and mind. It allows for a peace that passes all understanding to settle upon my person. To be honest with you, I wish I had come to these conclusions long before the recent circumstances of my life had been resolved. I believed that praying over this circumstance every day was a necessity. I am now also acutely aware that carrying the burden of seeing my prayer answered was not my responsibility. I tried to carry it any way. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). It seems as though I have to keep learning this same lesson again and again.
Hopefully these simple words will help set you free. Not from the burden of prayer, but from being burdened after your prayer is offered in faith to God. Trust in prayer may not always be the same thing as trust in God. Selah!