I Don’t Pray Enough, Do You?
May 7, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Today is the National Day of Prayer for our country. This day of prayer has been annually observed since 1952. On a day like today, Christians may reflect on why don’t we pray more often. In fact, I think many Christians would quickly state, “I don’t pray enough,” when asked about their prayer lives. We know well the biblical exhortations: “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6), and “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18). Why do we not pray as we ought?
I acknowledge there are many things that keep me from praying as I ought. Perhaps knowledge of the roadblocks will help us fight the good fight of faith in order to be people of prayer. Here are three potential roadblocks to prayer:
1. I don’t see my need. People pray in the midst of crisis, even people who normally are not “religious.” Crises highlight our needs and move us to be humble enough to ask for help. This is not a bad thing. What about the times we are not facing crises? Do we lack need at those times? Absolutely not. As created beings, struggling with a sin nature in a fallen world, we always have need. One of the roles of Scripture is to open our eyes to see clearly our need moment by moment. Hear how the psalmist prays: “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you – you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day” (Ps. 86:1-3). May we see ourselves as “poor and needy” before our God. Do not wait for a crisis in your life to acknowledge your needs.
2. I think too highly of myself. Almost like a stubborn 2 year-old, I hold onto the idea that “I can do it myself.” Of course this is the flip side of the coin with not seeing our need. In evaluating ourselves in light of the oncoming challenges, we don’t see our need but we see our ability. This industrious attitude certainly is commendable, but if it leads to prayerlessness, it is deadly. Paul commands the Roman believers “not to think of [themselves] more highly than [they] ought to think” (Rom. 12:3). This is in the context of understanding abilities and gifts in the church. The same is true with prayer. James emphasizes how this impacts prayer and God’s grace in our lives: “You do not have, because you do not ask…he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:2, 6). May we be humbled before God to seek his favor.
3. I prioritize “activity” over prayer. We live in a productive society. Success is measured by tangible scales of production. Even within our families we feel the pressure to “make the most” of every moment, adding activities ad nauseam. In this kind of culture, prayer does not feel productive. What do you have to show (or, what have you produced) after spending one hour in prayer? It doesn’t measure up in our society. But nothing can nor should replace prayer in our lives. Martin Luther has been quoted as saying, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” May we esteem prayer to be so important that everything else on our to-do lists takes second place.