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Four reasons why we don't pray

The Bible teaches the value of prayer. For example, the apostle Paul reminds early Christians.

He tells the church in Thessalonica. “Pray continually,”

Then he advises the church in Philippi. “Pray in every situation,”

And to the church in Colossae, he says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.”

From start to finish, the bible gives us a simple message: we should pray.

So why do so many of us find it so difficult to do it?

We know we should—but we just find it hard to do!

As individual Christians and churches, we suffer from “prayer anaemia.” Instead of being the lifeblood of our faith, prayer gets squeezed out or becomes an afterthought.

Here are four reasons we don’t pray.

1. We don’t know HOW

If we are honest, I suspect this is where many of us are right now. We just don’t know how to go about praying. We’ve never been taught or shown how to do it!

When I was in full-time Christian ministry, I went to lead a small church where a bright, intelligent young lady was the churchwarden (Anglican lay leader). She was a teacher in her daily life and had been part of the church all her life. It surprised me that she signed up for a Christian nurture course that I ran soon after arriving, assuming she would have grown beyond this in her faith.

Not only did she need the basic Christian teaching in that course, but she also confessed during one session that nobody had ever shown her how to pray.

I’ve met a lot of very faithful church-attending Christians who tell me that nobody has ever shown them how to pray.

It’s like some church leaders think people learn by osmosis.

We don’t.

And if we don’t know how, we need to be shown how. Even the disciples asked Jesus to show them: When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray” Luke 11.1.

If the disciples – the hand-picked group that Jesus chose—didn’t have a clue about prayer, perhaps we shouldn’t feel so bad.

So, if we don’t know HOW to pray, then let’s own that truth. It’s the first small step to growing an effective and vital life of prayer.

2. We think we are TOO BUSY

We soon feel overwhelmed by our many needs, family, church, city, and world.

We mean to carve out time for prayer. But the busyness of life squeezes it out.

The writers of the Psalms often felt this overwhelm. Look at Psalm 69

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for God.

Prayer takes time.

It flourishes in stillness, quietness, and serenity—things that are becoming harder and harder to find in our busy, hurried lives.

For some of us, prayer is something we will do if we’ve got nothing else going on.

The problem is there’s ALWAYS something else going on.

Prayer never happens by accident. We have to be intentional about it.

If we don’t MAKE time in our busy lives, then it won’t happen...

3. We are not sure IF GOD HEARS

And we aren’t sure that even if He does—which He does—that it makes any difference.

Or perhaps He is too busy to hear our petty prayer requests.

Many of you will have seen the movie Bruce Almighty, where Jim Carrey plays ‘God’.

There’s a scene with him checking his inbox for all the prayer requests that flooding come in. No sooner does he clear the prayer request, a bunch more get added to the queue. It’s as if there are so many requests that even God can’t keep up.

That’s not true, by the way...

God is infinite. Not only that, He WANTS us to pray to Him.

He longs for his children to bring our heartfelt desires before Him. He is waiting for us to approach Him with our prayers.

Never think that God is too busy to listen to our prayers.

4. We think WE can handle it

This is the fallacy of self-reliance, which is the wrong path for Christians in the Bible.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do; he will show you the right way. Proverbs 3.5-6.

All of us rely too much on our resources. Often, we don’t even think about turning to God in prayer.

Have you ever heard someone say, “all we can do now is pray?”

We often hear those words when someone is gravely ill, and there is nothing more that the doctors and medical staff can do for a person.

It’s like prayer is the last resort.

It should be the first thing we do.

Even in Christian circles, we have lost the core value of relying on God rather than on ourselves.

All of Scripture tells us that life was designed to be lived, not in reliance on ourselves—but in total, joyful dependence on the God who made us and is always with us.

Which of these four areas do you struggle most with?


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