A few days ago I shared 9 Reasons Why We Don’t Pray. These 9 reasons hold true for marrieds, singles, young and old. Most of us desire to pray, but for many reasons (as shared in part one of this series), we choose to NOT make prayer a priority in our lives and relationships.
Today I share:
- a few simple applications to help us fight back against some of these common reasons why we don’t pray,
- a tool that you can download that has drastically changed my prayer life, and
- a few recommended resources.
1. Never Resist the Urge to Pray. In other words, just do it! Don’t postpone, don’t make excuses, and don’t put it off for a better time. Thanks to Tim Challies for saying this so well. He says, “So never resist it [prayer], never postpone it, never push it aside because you are busy.”
Prayer is one of those things that I read about and talk about all the time, but yet rarely make the time to actually pray. If you don’t know how, just start. Listen to God and speak to God as if you were listening to and speaking with a friend. Do you use the words thee, thou, and art when you speak with a friend? Of course not. So don’t feel the need to use them with God either.
2. Develop a right understanding of your depravity, of prayer and the riches of following God. I’m not going to respond to each of the 9 reasons we don’t pray point by point, but so many of our excuses revolve around a faulty understanding of who we are, who God is and what prayer is.
For instance, if we understood the depth of our depravity and our profound need for a Savior, then we would never believe all of our needs were really met (reason #1). We would never substitute material possessions for the richness of intimacy with Christ.
We would pray not with the intent of getting what we want, but because we trust God with the outcome. We’d seek to be faithful in prayer, not in getting the outcome we desire. We woud allow Him to transform our desires into His (Psalm 37:4, John 16:24). (Reasons #3 and 4).
3. Ask yourself some questions on why you’re not praying. My friend Sean gathered this list up from Donald Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Am I not praying because:
- I lack the discipline to pray?
- Because I doubt anything will actually happen if I pray or I have a wrong understanding of who God is?
- I am experiencing a lack of intimacy with Christ?
- I have little awareness of my deep need to pray?
Sometimes all it takes is a little reflection time to understand why we don’t pray. I know there are times when I believe I am too busy to pray. When I take some time to reflect, I realize there is NEVER a good reason to choose not to pray.
I have grown in my personal time of prayer while I spend time in God’s Word. Kristen and I experience ups and downs in our prayer life together as a couple, but I never regret taking the time to grow in my intimacy with the Lord when I do pray on a regular basis.
Sometimes when I write, I know it helps me to work through deficiencies in my own walk with Jesus. I am personally thankful for the reminders to (1) never resist the urge to pray, (2) to develop a right understanding of who God is and the benefits of prayer and (3) for the challenge of asking myself some simple questions when I make excuses for not praying.
A few resources I’d recommended:
- This is the prayer sheet I use to help organize my thoughts and prayer requests. Each day includes a different group of people I pray for (i.e. elders, family, friends, community) and includes plenty of white space for me to record current, specific prayer requests. I have taken most of the specific names of people off of this, but this spreadsheet has been so helpful for me.
- Two books that have challenged me in my prayer life plus one in my reading stack:
- I am reading Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney with my discipleship group right now. Each chapter takes on a different spiritual discipline, such as bible reading, fasting and prayer.
- Also by Whitney: Praying the Bible. I like the way this book provides a simple (not simplistic) method of praying through what you’re reading in the Bible.
- A more challenging but helpful read on prayer: Tim Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.
- Which of the three lessons above do you need to apply?
- Ask yourself: How will the world look different if all of your prayers from the last day, week, month were answered? If we really believed God hears us and that prayer is effective, then we would hit our knees much more often, with much bigger prayers.