Hard prayer?

As a child I was told that if I prayed really hard, my prayers would be answered. So when I really wanted something, I’d close my eyes and pray with clenched fists and a scrunched-up face, straining as hard as I could.

Needless to say, that approach didn’t work. At one point, someone said maybe I needed a stronger faith. Later on, I laughed when I heard about “teabag Christians” who only pray when things begin to boil. So for a long time prayer puzzled me: it was either hard or easy, or a last resort. In Sunday School I learned that Jesus made prayer and faith seem easy, saying mountains could be moved with an amount of faith as tiny as a mustard seed (see Matthew 17:20), and promising that if I believed in the Christ, I could do what he did, like walk on water or raise the dead (see John 14:12). I wondered, could prayer really do that?

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