Summary: A message on prayer.
WHY WE DON’T PRAY
INTRO: The prophet said to his contemporaries, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you” (NIV). That is also an accurate assessment of God’s people in our day. Prayer is the most talked about and least practiced aspect of the Christian life. We talk about prayer. We read about prayer. We believe in prayer. The sad fact is that very seldom do we ever really get around to doing it. WHY HAVE WE GIVEN UP ON PRAYER?
I. THE PRACTICAL REASON.
Some people have given up on prayer because they claim it does not work. To this complaint we can respond with the evidence of millions who through the centuries have testified that prayer does work. For instance, E Stanley Jones, the world missionary, declared late in his life; “I have found that I am better or worse as I pray more or less. It works with almost mathematical precision.”
We can go a step further and question what is meant by the statement “Prayer does not work.” If by that statement you mean that prayer does not obtain for you everything you want, then obviously you do not understand what prayer is. Prayer is not an Aladdin’s lamp by which we extract things from God. It is an avenue by which we give ourselves to God. Understood that way, nothing works like prayer.
II. THE RATIONAL REASON.
Some do not pray because they feel prayer conflicts with their understanding of natural law. Because all things are set, prayer is a flight from reality.
Both science and theology, however, rightly understood, rule out such a rational objection to prayer. The essence of theology is a God with whom nothing is impossible. To believe in an omnipotent God means to believe that God can act in any way He chooses.
III. THE THEOLOGICAL REASON.
Some do not pray because of their understanding of God. If God knows what we are going to ask, and if God’s will is going to be done, then what is the use of praying. (Matt. 7:7-11)
The solution to this problem is found in the character of our relationship with God and the part prayer is to play in that relationship. God is not a machine but a person. He is not a judge before whom we are only to answer the questions asked of us. Instead, He is a father to whom we are to share our innermost desires and needs. Because prayer is bringing all of yourself into fellowship with all of God, it is an essential part of our relationship with a personal God.
IV. THE ETHICAL REASON.
Some do not pray because they feel prayer is usually a substitute for Christian action. For some people, prayer is a retreat from the challenges of real life. Read the Bible, however, and you will discover that among God’s saints, prayer was never a substitute for action. Instead, prayer was an empowerment for more effective action.
V. THE ACTUAL REASON.
At the root of these reasons is another reason. In most cases this is the actual reason for our prayerlessness: We simply do not care enough.
Three steps are necessary to move from our prayerlessness back into the ministry of prayer.
1. Recognition that prayerlessness is a sin.
2. Repentance—recognizing prayerlessness for what it is, we must be willing to turn from it.
3. Recommitment—beginning now, decide to begin once more the ministry of prayer.