Tension and Trust in Prayer


Do you feel tension when you pray? If so, is this why you don't pray more often — and why you feel relief when you’re finished?

C.S. Lewis, in his Letters to Malcolm . . .

“Well, let’s now at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome. An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish.”

I’m convinced the tension we feel in prayer is why we don’t do it more. And why we feel relieved when we’re finished.

Why do we feel so tense about prayer?

Maybe it’s because we’re talking to Almighty God (which, when taken seriously, is no small thing). Might be guilt because it’s been so long since we really prayed. Maybe it’s not knowing how much prayer is enough. Should I be on my knees? Am I praying for the right things? Am I asking too much? Doesn’t God already know what I want? Tensions.

And what about the tension between our will and His will? Am I presumptuous enough to tell God what I want when there’s a good chance it’s not what He wants? Am I asking Him to ‘sign off’ on my plans or truly listening for His? Do I ask for selfish things when He’s told me to live my life selflessly? Tensions.

My biggest recent learning about prayer is to relax . . . because all prayers are answered, meaning God hears every prayer and takes it into consideration. Imagine God sitting at his computer, writing the story of your life. His ‘prayer-line’ rings. It’s you, asking Him to cure your cancer. He hears your prayer and decides what happens next, typing the narrative into reality. We have no idea whether God erased and re-wrote the part where you were healed (or not) or if it turned out the way He wrote it to begin with. We know He heard your prayer, no matter when it was said (because He’s timeless and omniscient) and we know He and He alone determines the outcome. We peacefully lean into whatever happens next, knowing the Father heard our prayer. We relax in His love and trust Him. We’ve prayed and now it’s “. . . your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Tension gone.

The more I trust Him, the less tension I feel as I pray. I’m no longer desperately begging for what I want. I’m talking with my Father about things that matter to me and to Him. I smile when I speak and when I ‘hear’ Him speak. The outcomes are less dangerous. The confidence of “we’ll get through this” sustains me through the darkness of night. The knowledge that He is with me brings strength to my soul. “I love you Lord. I thank you Lord. I trust you Lord.”

Prayer – “Lord, help us remember that you’re close by when we’re praying. That you like to hear from us and you’re interested in what we say to you in prayer. Give us faith, Jesus, to enter into your presence with peace, not tension. Remind us of the times you’ve been there for us in the past so we’ll trust you with whatever is coming our way next. We love you. In the beautiful name of Jesus we lay this prayer at your feet. Amen.”

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