Prayer is something we as the church don’t do often enough.
In his book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life Richard Lovelace provides several elements needed for renewal and revival. One of these elements is Dependent Prayer. In his section on dependent prayer, he writes this:
If all regenerate church members in Western Christendom were to intercede daily simply for the most obvious spiritual concerns visible in their homes, their workplaces, their local churches and denominations, their nations, and the world and the total mission of the body of Christ within it, the transformation which would result would be incalculable.
Not only would God certainly change those situations in response to prayer – we have Christ’s word that if we ask in his name he will do more than we ask or think – but the church’s comprehension of its task would attain an unprecedented sharpness of focus.
Perhaps much of our prayer now should simply be for God to pour out such a spirit of prayer and supplication in the hearts of his people.
I believe Lovelace hits the nail on the head. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. Even though we know that, we don’t focus on prayer.
Why Don’t We Pray?
(1) We don’t realize our special position as God’s children
Those of us who are Christians have been adopted as God’s children. Paul says in Galatians 4:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:4-6)
Christians are God’s children. As God’s children, we have a personal intimate relationship with God. A relationship that gives us direct access to God.
Since we are God’s children, we shouldn’t hesitate to draw near to our King in prayer. But many do. Many hesitate to come to God in prayer. I think it is because they don’t recognize what they have. They don’t recognize the special position and ability they possess as God’s children to come boldly into His throne room.
(2) Our fallen nature constantly pulls us away from prayer
Sinners don’t want anything to do with God. They want to be as far from God as possible.
Even after we are redeemed by Jesus, we still have a sinful nature with which to contend. A sinful nature that would rather us not go to the Lord in prayer.
(3) Our culture pulls us away from prayer
Since the Enlightenment in the 1800’s, things have been lumped into two categories – Feelings and Facts. Prayer, and spiritual things in general, was put into the feelings categories – something we might believe to be true, but aren’t able to prove scientifically.
The feelings category is subjective. When things are made to be subjective, they don’t feel real. Instead they feel phony, which is exactly what elites and influencers of culture say about prayer. It’s phony. It’s something only fanatics do. Us educated types don’t need prayer.
Our culture propagates that idea. Open any influential newspaper – New York Times, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal – and you will see what I mean.
So another reason we don’t prayer is because our culture is constantly pulling us away from it.
(4) We are dependent on ourselves
We believe we can do life without God, that we can handle things on our own. Our results are because of our expertise, talents, and hard work, not God.
When we think in this way, praying seems nice but unnecessary. After all money can do the same thing prayer does, but in less time. So instead praying, we work extra hard to insure success. In this way, we show we depend on ourselves and not God.
(5) We believe we don’t have the time
Culture, especially Western Culture, has taught us time is money. Time idle is time wasted. It is time money could be made. Since prayer is often seen as idle time, it is put on the back burner.
Prayer, however, isn’t idle time. Time spent on our knees is invaluable. Our God is the sovereign Creator and Ruler of all things. So time praying isn’t wasted time. It isn’t idle time. It is instead something we can’t afford not to do.
So as we see there are a number of reasons we don’t pray. Those reasons run the gamut from us not understanding our position before God, to sin pulling us away, to culture’s influence, to self-dependence, or to thinking it is not worth our time. I am sure there are many more, so share your thoughts in the comments.
Question for Reflection
- What others reasons would you provide for our lack of prayer?
Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace
2 thoughts on “Why Don’t We Pray?”
We don’t understand time. We see it in our own 24 hour schedule. So, I pray and pray and pray and 2 months later have no revelation, no clarity, no answer. Things are the same and I’m frustrated with God because I’ve given him 2 months…or 2 years…and still no defined answer. No door closed. No obvious “go this way and do this” and I’m frustrated. So, I quit praying. What kind of being doesn’t respond quicker than that? I put God on my timetable and when he doesn’t answer quick enough, I give up. Too often. That’s just the sad truth. The good news is, at some point I usually realize I’m putting God in my box and that’s where the problem resides.
These two lines from your comment hit the nail on the head.
I agree. The problem is with us and not with God. We have a tendency to put Him in our own box, but we shouldn’t. We should do as you said, “realize…that’s where the problem resides.”