Jesus wants his followers, those who have been born again, to communicate with their heavenly Father about their problems as well. That’s why every request in the Lord’s Prayer starts with some kind of problem. We say, “Hallowed be your name,” because his name isn’t being hallowed as it should—which is a problem from heaven’s perspective. We request, “Your kingdom come, your will be done,” because his kingdom does not seem to be here, and his will isn’t really being done. That’s a problem. Then there’s a provision problem that leads to us ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And then a guilt problem that causes us to plead “and forgive us our debts.” And because we have a problem with evil, we ask God to “deliver us from evil.”
This isn’t, of course, the only place where problems are prayed. When Israel was enslaved in Egypt, they prayed their problem. They “cried out to God.” When Hannah was burdened by her childlessness, she prayed her problem with tears (1 Samuel 1). When Nehemiah heard that the walls in Jerusalem were broken, he cried out to God in prayer (Nehemiah 1). When Peter was one day away from being executed by Rome, the church prayed him out of prison (Acts 12).
The book of Psalms is filled with examples of people praying their problems. In Psalm 69, the writer pleads, “Save me God, the water has risen to my neck.” The writer of Psalm 5 is so overwhelmed by his problems he can’t find the words, so he says, “Consider my sighing and I’ll watch expectantly.” Psalm 51 is based on a guilt problem where the author is looking for grace. In Psalm 22, the writer feels forsaken. In Psalm 55, the writer feels betrayed by a friend. The Bible shows people praying their problems over and over.
Thankfully, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened…” (Matthew 11:28 CSB). What makes you “weary” and “burdened”? Problems.
Do you pray your problems?
Most people don’t. Most people initially either try to run away from their problems or run to their problems—flight or fight. Jesus doesn’t want you to do either. When you learn to pray your problems, you learn the secret to praying “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Your prayers are unceasing because your problems are unceasing. Whether your prayers seem little or big, God wants his children to bring every one of them to him. Because each specific problem prayed gives the invisible God an opportunity to become visible in the prayer’s life.
So turn your problems into prayers. When you ask God to do something about a specific problem, you turn that problem into a platform where you can see something of God that you couldn’t without that problem. That’s what the apostle Paul is explaining to the Corinthian Christians in 2 Corinthians 12. After saying that he asked God to remove a problem, one that he called “a thorn in the flesh,” God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). Paul points God to his problem and God points Paul to an experience of his grace and power. Where is God’s power, something everyone wants to experience? It’s experienced most in our weakness, in our problems. Problems are platforms. This changes how we view our difficulties. We see that God uses our problems to prepare us.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28
pray continually,1 Thessalonians 5:17