People who ski happen to enjoy skiing; they have time for skiing, can afford to ski, and are good at skiing. I have found that I often treat prayer as though it were a sport like skiing— something you do if you like it, something you do in your spare time, something you do if you can afford the trouble, something you do if you’re good at it. Otherwise, you do without it most of the time. When you get in a pinch you try it, and then you call an expert.
But prayer isn’t a sport. It’s work. Prayer is work because a Christian simply can’t “make a living” without it. The apostle Paul said we “wrestle” in prayer. In the wrestling of a Christian in prayer, “our fight is not against any physical enemy; it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen powers that control this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil” (Ephesians 6:12, PHILLIPS). Seldom do we consider the nature of our opponent, and that is to his advantage. When we do recognize him for what he is, however, we have an inkling as to why prayer is never easy. It’s the weapon that Unseen Power dreads most, and if he can get us to treat it as casually as we treat a pair of skis or a tennis racquet, he can keep his hold.
Elizabeth Elliot, The Elizabeth Elliot Newsletter, January 2002