Prayer is the duty of every child of God. When we pray, the Lord blesses us with His comfort and peace. He lightens our sorrows and grants us “grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4: 16). He shields us from worldly snares and temptations.
It is our privilege and blessing to draw nigh unto the Lord in prayer. Sadly, however, many of us fail to pray. In our article last week, we noted some reasons why Christians neglect this important spiritual duty: 1) No true conversion; 2) Lack of love for the Lord; and 3) Disappointments. As we continue with our study, let us consider other possible causes for our poor prayer life:
Some of us may neglect prayer because of a doubting heart. The apostle James warns against the kind of doubting that renders prayer ineffective: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (Jas 1: 6-8). We may sometimes wonder whether God is able to help us or whether He has heard us, especially when we have prayed long and hard. We vacillate between doubt and faith.
Brethren, do we waver in prayer? Confess our weak faith and ask God for help to trust Him fully. Take God at His Word. Let us approach Him with a simple, childlike faith.
o Spiritual dryness
We may experience periods of spiritual dryness when we have little desire to pray. This can be due to unconfessed sin or a backslidden condition. The psalmist David knew what it was like to be in that spiritually dry state when he failed to confess his sins. Overwhelmed by deep guilt, he wrote: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps 32: 3-4).
We may neglect prayer because we are struggling with some unresolved issues. A husband’s prayers may be hindered because he is not loving and honouring the wife as he should. The apostle Peter reiterates this truth in I Peter. 3: 7: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
Brethren, if we have not been praying lately, let us consider our ways. Are there unconfessed sins in our lives? Are we in a strained relationship? Seek to get right with God and with man. If we are in a backslidden condition, let us return to the Lord. Our gracious Heavenly Father promises to forgive our sins and to receive those who turn to Him with repentant hearts: “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Mal 3: 7; cf Jer 3: 12-14).
Moreover, the psalmist warns us that God will not hear those who continue in their sin: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps 66: 18). Are we harbouring a bitter spirit? Is there someone we need to forgive? Let us forsake our sins and draw nigh to God.
We may fail to pray because we have “no time”. All too often, we allow our daily activities to steal our time with God. For most of us, work or school takes up most of our day. When we return home, our families and daily chores demand our attention, after which we relax and unwind before the television or read the newspapers. At the end of a busy and demanding day, when our bodies are weary and worn, it is hard to find time for the Lord.
When we give priority to other “more important” pursuits in life, our time with God is set aside. Prayer then becomes a burdensome duty. We often say: “I will pray when I have time to spare.” Such a thought reflects our true values. Our real problem lies in our priorities more than in the time available to us. There is enough time in each day for everything that is in the will of God. Some years ago, a speaker at our church camp made this pertinent remark: “If we have no time for God, there is something very wrong with our lives. If we have no time for prayer, we need to re-order our priorities.”
Brethren, let us prioritise our time of communion with the Lord. Jesus exhorts us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6: 33). Though we may have other things to do, we should set the Lord first in our day. Make it a point to keep that daily appointment with Him. When we do so, He promises to bless us with everything that is needful for our lives. (…to be continued)