Five Realities Ruining Your Prayer Life
I don't know a single Christian who doesn't desire a deeper prayer life.
Each month I teach a discipleship class at Redemption and naturally, prayer is a central topic. Halfway through the class we have a time for table discussion about areas in which individuals desire to grow. I have yet to teach one class in which the vast majority of people did not express a desire for a deeper prayer life.
Prayer is arguably the most important practice in the Christian life, yet often the most neglected. How do you explain that? Why do we desire to pray more, but struggle to do so?
There is no one answer. There are a great number of realities that are ruining our prayer lives. Here are five:
Most of us put far more trust in ourselves then we let on. That's why we don't pray. Prayer is practicing dependence on God. It is an acknowledgment that we are finite and in need of help. In prayer we revolt against the cultural call to look within ourselves for help and humbly lift our eyes vertically the only One who has all power. Nothing will suck your prayer life dry like self-reliance.
The combination of confidence in one's one strength and a crowded calendar are not conducive to a fervent prayer life. Working hard is good. Being busy stewarding what God has entrusted to you is good. But allowing your life to run you, rather than running your life, will most certainly ruin any hope of a prayer life.
Some of us bump prayer to the back burner with the best of intentions, promising to get to it later. The problem is, later rarely comes. Prayer rarely feels like a pressing issue, so inevitably it is pushed off unless prioritized.
Some of us simply lack knowledge about prayer. We don't know what it is, why it's important, or how it works. The good news is, there is no shortage of resources available. There are countless podcasts, posts, and books that can help sharpen our understanding of the what, why, and how of prayer. The bad news is, we're without excuse, so we have to get after it.
Nobody wants to say it, but some of us honestly aren't sure prayer matters. We wonder if God is listening, we question whether or not He cares, and we doubt prayer makes any difference at all. If this is where you are, read the words of Psalm 116 slowly:
"I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you."
Prayer is paramount in the Christian life and as a result, is an obvious target for the enemy. Do not let these realities ruin your prayer life. Prayer requires a plan. Search your heart, survey your schedule, and set your life to the pursuit of prayer.