When Prayer is a Struggle

I sit to pray because it's the thing to do.  The way to start my day off right and almost like 'insurance' for my plans.  Not the best approach to prayer, I'll admit. But even if my heart yearns for it, sometimes my mind is not on board with the idea.

Sometimes the ping-pong that has replaced my brain just won't settle long enough for a cohesive thought to form.  The 'cares of this world' crowd in on me - the school work, the bills, the ever-growing-to-do list.

I struggle to pray, struggle to read, struggle to settle my focus on the Lord Who knows all my cares.

...casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1Pe 5:7 NKJV

There's also the guilt.

The bedtime words that have lingered over to this morning, pressing on me like dead weight.  They are dead weight, leftovers of the old man crucified.

I tucked my kids in with condemnation, frustration, anger.

Where is the way out of this?

I am surrounded by the provocations of last night.  The dishwasher full of clean dishes, the counter full of dirty ones.  Floors unswept, garbage full, toilets dirty.  And a whole busy day ahead.

Is any of it really worth a second thought?  Even the whole dirty combination of things, is it worth wounded hearts and biting words and unmerciful lists?

And have I failed again only to let the guilt of it all separate me from the One Who is Mercy?

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. - Lam 3:21-23 NKJV

New.  Every.  Morning.

That's always been my way out, my hope for the redemption of words I can't take back and deeds mis-done.

In the morning we can start over.

I leave my chair and ora et labora, pray and work.

I do the chores because my kids are more important and if I don't remove this burden, it weighs my children down, as well.

We'll talk later about responsibilities and I'll remind them that we all have work to do, but for now I just know that they don't need to wake up to the same heaviness I did.

"Good morning.   Do your chores," is no way to greet my kids.

I make pancakes.  It's a Friday morning and that usually means toast or oatmeal.   Pancakes are for Saturday, for eating while listening to Odyssey and Ranger Bill.

But this is a Friday with new mercies and why not pancakes?

They come out of their rooms confused, but thankful.

That must be the joy - thankful confusion.  It sure makes me happy, and that's always a good way to start the day.

So that's it, my two-steps when prayer is a struggle:

  1. do the chores
  2. make pancakes

I am no authority on prayer, but I am an expert at struggling.  Struggling means you are trying, fighting against the old man, hanging on to Jesus by a thread when you feel like you've cut every chord.

He never turns away this kind of prayer, the one lived out in the dirty kitchen by the struggler-seeking.

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Adding some 'thankful' to our 'confusion' this week…

201.  Science (can I just say, I'm thankful that someone here is thankful for science?!)

202.  the amazing, strange, funky creatures that the mind of God created

203.  kids who work together

204.  fresh paint

205.  the wonderful neighbor who makes us dinner on a busy day

206.  a house beginning to feel like home

207.  so many good friends around the table that we eat soup from strawed-cereal bowls and measuring cups!

208.  again, encouragement from my husband