What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “warrior“? We think armor, we think weaponry, we think young buff army hero guy in some epic film. Think Braveheart. Think Gladiator. Think…well, I confess I don’t watch a lot of these films, so I’m sure there are tonnes of examples.
But if you add the word “prayer” to the “warrior“, we get the opposite image. We get the image of the old lady, faithful to church every Sunday, with a secret intimacy with Jesus that she lives on her knees every other day of the week. But why is a prayer warrior an old lady?
The prayer warrior is the heroine of this latest Christian release – “The War Room”* (I really want to see this movie, but it won’t come out here.) As far as the trailer implies, there is an old lady who moves mountains with her prayers. But why must she be old? I have a few theories:
1) We’re all a little slow to grow
Wisdom takes time, a lifetime even. And so does faith. Each day as we journey with the Lord, as we pray, we grow in faith and in trust. Each day is an opportunity to see more of God’s grace, more of His Presence, and His character.
2) Sometimes God seems slow to answer
We might pray for something for 10, 20, 30 years and get seemingly no answer. So its no surprise then, that in the first 10 or 20 years of a journey with Jesus, it seems that God is not answering our prayers. Nothing takes more faith than continue to trust in God when He seems slow to answer (or when he doesn’t seem to answer at all). With time (and age), we see more answers, which boosts faith and trust in God, which in turn motivates us to pray.
3) As we slow down with age, prayer is the most powerful thing we can do.
This is perhaps an obvious one, though slightly awkward one! As one physically ages, the capacity to be physically active decreases. But our capacity to pray does not. I suspect that our capacity to pray actually increases with age.
Struggles of a young prayer warrior
No surprises here. We suck at staying focussed. Even as I type I have 8 tabs open, plus email, plus my ipad and cell phone next to me. I can also be contacted by landline (yep, I still have one of those) and skype and a myriad of other methods. It would be so much easier if God would just use these means of communication. I can more easily write God an email than actually spend time in the quiet, listening. We are far too easily distracted.
Since moving to a more rural area, the focus factor has been slightly easier, but only a little. We are the generation who values multitasking and focus is considered a talent, not a discipline. We are far too easily distracted.
We actually want to be distracted. I’m working through this particular issue right now. I’m not great with prayer right now because if I pray I need to face things that are hard. Coming before God means vulnerability. It means humility. A young guy from my old church passed away last week and it was devastating. I went to God and just wept for him and his family. It was painful, but I think it was good. However, I couldn’t bring myself to live 24/7 with the feeling of sorrow and brokenness (even if I wasn’t particularly close to him), so I turned on the TV. I avoided it. I felt the draw of the TV last week more than any week before. I wanted to be distracted. I wanted to avoid facing the mix of emotions. But in prayer we can work through them, break through them, grow. But the pull of avoidance is strong, because we are far too easily distracted.
3) Doers of the Word
” Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says. ”
We know this verse well, but its ironic, because actually the very opposite is our problem. Our generation is so fixed on the “doing”, that the “being” is lost. With Bible reading plans, prayer meetings, Bible studies, etc., we have turned the “listening to the Word”, into a “doing” rather than a “being”. We do Bible study, we do prayer, but do we actually listen to the Word? And by listen I mean really listen. I don’t mean, “take principles out of Scripture, study them and apply them to our context”. I mean truly listen. A prayer warrior listens.
The focus of my ministry right now is prayer, because we are at the beginning of a new project. But I’m struggling and finding it almost impossible to merely listen. I want to skip the listen step and dive into doing. Prayer seems inactive, passive, an inefficient use of time and resources. I’m financially supported in my ministry to do, right? This mentality kills prayer. Its not a biblical perspective of ministry, it’s a business one.
Before we can do what He says, we must merely listen.
How to become a prayer warrior, no matter your age.
Like a warrior needs to train, so too a prayer warrior. And most training is not “classes” and “lessons”, most training is “practice”. A marathon runner clocks up the hours in training. Some work on technique, nutrition, and even buying new gear is important, but ultimately someone training for a marathon needs to run. A lot. Short runs, long runs, medium sized runs, interval training, morning runs, evening runs, rainy runs, you name it. Its the one element of training that cannot be avoided: To become a prayer warrior, one must start training to pray.
2) Teach us to pray
If its good enough for the disciples its good enough for us. Jesus teach us how to pray! We can also ask Jesus to help us become prayer warriors. Prayer warrior is not a status that is earned, it is learned and given. Wisdom on this earth is earned, but wisdom from God is a gift. (Check out Solomon’s wisdom). So asking Jesus to give you a passion for prayer is a totally legit prayer.
3) Learn from veteran warriors
Pray with others. Keep each other accountable. If you see someone in your church who you’d consider a prayer warrior, ask to join them in prayer. Nothing is more inspiring or faith-filling than watching someone else overflow with faith. Prayer is communal.
A word of encouragement for the young prayer warriors out there.
Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer. You may have tried a million times to get us to come to prayer vigils and prayer meetings, as well as try and give prayer a more central role in our church services and our lives. THANK YOU! Please persevere! You may feel like the only young person that cares so much about prayer, but please be patient with us and whatever you do, please do not stop praying for us!