I am by no means an expert on prayer. Let me first get that out of the way... I pray, but not always with the consistancy I wish and I don't always believe my prayers get answered...
There I said it. Most of us if we were to admit it live in "shame and spiritual weariness," as Paul Miller aptly states about prayer. We are afraid to admit to God our lack of faith in His ability to do anything in our lives and thus become burned out, because we try to carry the burdens of life on our own. Our theology and practice is a "cynicism of prayer" not being heard or answered by God.
Prayer is continual and constant...
Prayer is not an item that we check-off from our todo list. It should be woven into the fabric of who we are becoming. Prayer is continual and constant.
Since for most of us prayer is something we occasionally do when the need arises or when we are in a setting or situation that calls us to pray; we do not necesarily see ourselves as people of prayer, but rather we would identify ourselves as someone who prays occassionally. Because of this it shouldn't surprise us when we become cynical about God hearing and answering our prayers.
It like the little child, who wants a sweet, but asks his or her parent once for a piece of candy and gets no response and then walks away dejected. It's always the persistent child who continually asks, sees a response from the parent and receives some sort of answer whether it be a yes, no, or not yet.
I'm not suggesting that God only responds to a frenzied and nagging conversation from us. Instead what I'm advocating is that through a consistent practice of us speaking with God we become aware and even sensitive to God's movement and action in our daily circumstances as He answers our prayers.
We also begin to perceive the things that God wants us to be about or ask.
By making prayer a continual and constant part of who we are and who we are becoming we become internally and visually aware of God in the midst of our lives.
Four characteristics to demonstrate as a person of prayer...
To break the cycle of praying with cynicism, there are four charateristics that I try to posture in my life as person of prayer...
Pray with expectancy
Pray with faith
Pray with courage
Pray with honesty
Above all, it is important for us to communicate with God about our doubts of Him hearing our prayers. To remain silent and not express our doubt that God hears our prayers can prevent us living a life on purpose for God. The courage to speak aloud this quiet cynicism is empowering and frees us to be the people of God.