easy. You know the list we recite as we check in with God for the day: “Lord I need this, still want that, hope you’ll bless so and so,” and on it goes. It may be sincere, but that prayer fulfills what we feel is obligation. God
doesn’t want us obligated. He desires we meet with Him. That we cry out to Him. This causes pain.
It may be the reason you’ve stopped praying. We have all the excuses: “Too many distractions, too many kids, too much good stuff on TV, dog needs a walk, we’re headed to the hospital again, need to think about how to pay this bill…I deserve a break.” But I dare say we avoid prayer for a more serious, more understandable reason. It hurts.
We don’t want to face what is deep inside. In his magnificent book, The Selfless Way of Christ, Henri Nouwen reveals what keeps us from hitting our knees: “It is hard precisely because by facing God alone we are also facing our own inner chaos. We come in direct confrontation with our restlessness, anxieties, resentments, unresolved tensions, hidden animosities, and long-standing frustrations. Our spontaneous reaction to all this is to run away and get busy again, so that we can at least make ourselves believe that things are not as bad as they seem in our
It’s not that we think God doesn’t hear, not that God doesn’t care, not that our prayers don’t make a difference. We avoid stirring up the turmoil, avoid facing our fears and heartbreaks head-on, and prefer the checklist approach. We’d rather present concerns that get us through the day, not stare into the anguish that keeps us up at night.
Christians throw a lot of terms around that others don’t understand. One of them is “pressing-in.” They say, “We need to press-in to God and pray for this need.” Great, I get it, but when you press-in, something pushes back. My little boy was trying to hang-up his new calendar, and as he forced the push-pin into the wall, he cried out that it hurt. Yes, the harder he pushed, his little fingers ached as he felt the pain of pushing the tack into a hard wall. It is no different as we pray. When we have the courage to bring our hurts and fears to God, we feel pain. Yet God never pushes back. We'll find God’s unfailing love to be our comfort, as we embrace Jesus’ invitation to find rest for our weary souls (Psalm 119:76 & Matthew 11:28).
Pain comes in facing what prayer reveals about ourselves and the real struggles we face. Our Lord is gracious and gentle in our anguish, promising a peace unlike the world can give, so don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27). Remember, Jesus said our Father knows what you need even before you ask Him. He does not require information, but longs for the opportunity for us to trust Him with the anguish, hurts, and yes, the joys that we place before him.
 Henri Nouwen, The Selfless Way of Christ. Orbis Books. 2007. (p 86).