Man's Difficulty with Prayer

—and not to faint.

— St. Luke 18:1

In the very structure of the Lord’s parable of the unrighteous judge, he seems to take delay in the answering of prayer for granted, and says notwithstanding, “He will avenge them speedily!” The reconciling conclusion is that God loses no time, though the answer may not be immediate. He may delay because it would not be safe to give us at once what we ask: we are not ready for it. Time may be necessary for the working out of the answer.  And perhaps, indeed, the better the gift we pray for, the more time is necessary for its arrival. To give us the spiritual gift we desire, God may have to begin far back in our spirit, in regions unknown to us, and do much work that we can be aware of only in the results. With his own presence, the one thing for which most earnestly we cry, he may be approaching our consciousness from behind, coming forward through regions of our darkness into our light, long before we begin to be aware that he is answering our request—has answered it and is visiting his child. To avenge speedily must mean to make no delay beyond what is absolutely necessary. Because the Son of Man did not appear for thousands of years after men began to cry out for a Savior, shall we imagine he did not come the first moment it was well he should come? Can we doubt that to come a moment sooner would have been to delay, not to expedite, his kingdom? For anything that needs a process, to begin to act at once is to be speedy. God does not put off like the unrighteous judge; he does not delay until irritated by the prayers of the needy: he will hear while they are yet speaking; yea, before they call he will answer.

Commentary

by Jolyn Canty

What keeps me from prayer? What expectations do I have, or what assumptions have I made about God?  MacDonald reminds us that he is certainly not like the unjust judge, that He hears and knows and is at work when we are unaware, and often we do not see the fruits of His hand until much later.

So go to Him without hesitation, and see what lovely changes He will bring to your heart and life.

Come to God, then, my brother, my sister, with all your desires and instincts, all your lofty ideals, all your longing for unity and unselfishness, all your yearning to love and be true, all your aspirations after self-forgetfulness and child-life in the breath of the Father.  Come to him with all your weaknesses, all your shames, all your futilities; with all your helplessness over your own thoughts; with all your failures, yes, the sick sense of having missed the tide of true affairs.  Come to him with all your doubts, fears, dishonesties, meanness, paltriness, misjudgments, weariness, disappointments, and staleness.  Be sure he will take you with all your miserable brood into the care of his limitless heart. 
— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series—“Light”

The video below is a piece from an Italian Opera that has a melody conducive to prayer.