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Prayer is Like…Wrestling?

For over 20 years, I have written words for others. I am thankful for that work. But sometimes I simply need to write my own words.

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You know how some things just get stuck in your head?  Normally it’s a song – sometimes it’s an annoying song.  Well, in the midst of the non-annoying song You’re a Grand Old Flag that our kiddos sang for us at church on the 4th of July, I’ve had something else ruminating around in this crazy brain of mine.

One single verse.  From the very end of Colossians.

And when verses get stuck in our heads – watch out!  It means that the Lord is trying to get something through our thick skulls and has to inundate our thoughts with it until we GET IT!

Here’s the verse…

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings.  He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in ALL the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  (Col. 4:12) (NIV)  (I added the bolding and underlining.)

There’s a TON of rich stuff in this verse, isn’t there?  But let’s just talk about one small part of it right now…

I don’t know about you, but I feel like Epi (that’s what I call him now) and I have a lot in common when it comes to prayer.  I have done my share of “wrestling in prayer.”  How about you?

Just the word “wrestling” is so perfectly descriptive!  The act of wrestling in and of itself is both physically and emotionally taxing.

Although, for me, it’s a little different.  It takes me back to my days as a junior high wrestling cheerleader.  Myself and 40-50 (yes, I said 40-50…wrestling is a big deal in Iowa) of my fellow awkward, gawky 8th grade classmates, would cozy up around the edge of the wrestling mat to pound out cheers to our hearts’ content.  Except, here’s what happened…

The first minute or so we were really into it.  The second minute…losing some (a lot of) interest.  And if the match had to go into a second 2-minute period – forget it!  We didn’t have the attention span.

And THAT is what my prayer life has been like in the past. To a tee!

Here’s the truth…

Prayer is ultra-important in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.  I know you know that.  The word “pray” (or some form of it) is mentioned 512 times in the Bible (KJV).  That is A LOT as compared to other important topics in the Bible.

I mean, we’ve all heard and read about how much Jesus prayed.  And if HE had to pray, um…we better pray triple-time!

It’s one of the main ways we communicate with (read: talk to AND listen to) God, for heaven’s sake!

But here’s the ugly truth: we don’t do it. We don’t pray.  At least we don’t do it like we SAY we do it.  (I know – it hurts me to write it, too.)

WHY don’t we?  Because it’s hard.  Like wrestling.  And it doesn’t give us the “instant gratification” in the form we are used to in this impatient society of ours.  But, wow, is it something we need to do…

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, wrote: “Prayer is an expression of who we are…and we are living incompleteness.  We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.”

You know those days when you feel like you absolutely cannot handle one more thing?  You lost your biggest client, you only have $74.10 in the bank and payday is still over a week away, your children are fighting, you and your spouse had a disagreement this morning, or you just feel blah?  You feel like you NEED something, don’t you?  Those are dangerous, dangerous times.

Because, oh, how we like to search and search and search for “whatever” it is we need.  And we want to fill that emptiness with something…and we turn to the world to do that for us.  Those are THE MOST critical times in our lives – when the enemy is prowling around.  Like Peter says in 1 Peter 5:  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Guess what?  That NEED we have is an “emptiness that calls for fulfillment”…and the fulfillment is our Lord God!  Since the fall of man, we ARE a living incompleteness – that can ONLY be completed, filled, sustained, and made whole by our Lord God.

Here’s the bottom line:  Let our merciful God stand in YOUR gap for you.  He wants to.

But we MUST get in the habit of…praying.  Of communicating with our Father God.  NO relationship works without communication…why would this one be any different?

Now, don’t fool yourself with the “I don’t know how to pray” excuse or the ever-popular “I get too distracted” reasoning or then there’s the “I just don’t have time to pray” lie we tell ourselves.

In his book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller explains:  “If you don’t begin your prayers with where you are, then where you are will sneak in the back door.  Your mind will wander to where you are weary…Pray about what your mind is wandering to.”

I love that…pray about where your mind is wandering to.  So perfect.  So God.

Let’s start there.

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  1. So good…that doesn’t even BEGIN to state it! It’s a sin that everyone doesn’t read this… 😉

  2. inmyownwords says:

    Bahhahahaha! Just you and me, my dear sistah!

  3. Mary says:

    “You feel like you NEED something, don’t you? Those are dangerous, dangerous times.”

    Truer word were never written. I just had this conversation with your sister not long ago. For some reason I have a need that I am, yes, wrestling to get rid of. Reading your post is as timely for me as it is insightful and I now don’t feel quite so alone. You and your sister are a mighty, mighty pair.

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modern problem solving.
old-fashioned work ethic.

dallas, TX

writing & business solutions