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Why Prayer Often Feels Impossible

Why Prayer Often Feels Impossible


Whenever I’m meeting with believers for the first time, whether they’re joining our church as members or they’re ministry leaders in another context, I like to ask, “What does prayer look like for you?” More often than not, the response I get is guilt: they drop their heads and admit their prayer life isn’t what it should be. Why? 

We all live with a gap between who we are and who we want to be. There’s a gap between where we are today and where we hope to be in a later stage of maturity. This gap can lead us to feel guilt and shame, or it can serve as an invitation—an invitation to a deeper life, to pray, and to get started even now. 

When pastor and writer John Starke introduces prayer in his new book, “impossible” is one of the first words he uses. Not because he believes prayer to be impossible—quite the opposite—but because that’s a dominant feeling toward prayer for many believers. He explains: 

I once sat with a young mother who was a vice president at one of the major television networks in New York. She was working in a competitive field and had just given birth to her second child. The idea of spending time in prayer—something that she desired—seemed overwhelming and impossible. But she also knew that entering into a busy world, with the pressures of family and vocation, without some spiritual life seemed impossible. (5) 

This paradox is at the heart of Starke’s The Possibility of Prayer: Finding Stillness with God in a Restless World. For many of us, prayer feels impossible. Yet we simultaneously acknowledge: life without prayer is impossible. So where do we begin? 

The Possibility of Prayer: Finding Stillness with God in a Restless World

John Starke

The Possibility of Prayer: Finding Stillness with God in a Restless World

John Starke

IVP. 200 pp.

The world clamors for efficiency and productivity. But the life of prayer is neither efficient nor productive. Instead, as we learn in the psalms, prayer calls us to wait, to watch, to listen, to taste, and to see. These things are not productive by any modern measure—but they are transformative.

As a pastor in Manhattan, John Starke knows the bustle and busyness of our society. But he also knows that prayer is not just for spiritual giants. Prayer, he writes, is for each of us—not because we are full of spiritual wisdom and maturity, but because we are empty. Here is an invitation to discover, via the…



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