Why Don’t We Pray?

Read your Bible and pray every day, pray every day, pray every day. Read your Bible, pray every day, and you will grow, grow, grow.

Anyone remember that song from Sunday School? While the words still ring true, more often than not, we do everything (talk to people, try to find solutions on our own) but pray. But why? Why is this so often a last resort?

We are afraid nothing will happen.
We asked once or twice and nothing. This line of thinking can happen often when we aren’t aware of it. We have something big that’s on our hearts, but it’s not just that the request is a big ask. It’s personal. Just mouthing the words is difficult because we feel exposed. The request is near and dear to us, we will have to lay all our cards on the table, and we can’t stand the idea of being met with silence. So we remain silent.

We are unsure if the Lord cares.
Children help highlight the opposite of this point. They are quick to ask mom and dad for what they want the minute they think of a new toy or treat. Why? Because they know their parents love them.

Of course, this is an imperfect analogy as a parent’s love is not defined by always buying their children what they want when they want it. But the key is this: children don’t hesitate to ask.

Sometimes we are slow because (maybe without realizing it) we are telling ourselves this false narrative. Well, I asked once before, and nothing happened. So I guess God doesn’t really care.
And within two seconds, we are falling into the same pattern Eve did in Genesis 3. She doubted God’s goodness.

We feel God has been good enough so why should we ask for more.
Maybe you’ve come off a season where God answered some really long-standing prayers—an unsaved friend trusted Christ, you met your spouse after years of singleness, or you finally got pregnant after a prolonged season of infertility. Those are indeed reasons to praise and thank the Lord! So how could we ask for more—isn’t that almost ungrateful?

We feel like we have to earn it.
Any achievers or perfectionists out there? Some of us feel like we can only get an answer to our prayers until we have worked our tailbones off and done everything possible to support the scenario. Then, and only then, do we ask the Lord for help or blessing. We forsake the gift of grace and live by a works-based mentality.

We question whether it’s the right prayer.
We know what we want, but we are timid in asking for it. Maybe we are hoping for a little break from the routine of life, even a fun vacation. Maybe we are discouraged and could use some encouragement but don’t want to ask for it because we are supposed to rejoice in the Lord always, right? In these scenarios, we forget to unpack the whys.

Why do we want a break? Why do we feel like we need encouragement? Sometimes we have an idea that we think will fix (at least help) whatever is wrong, but we haven’t spent enough time in prayer to tell God what invisible bricks are weighing us down. Maybe we are nervous that our motivation is wrong or that somehow God will be disappointed in us for struggling, but how can we know what the Lord thinks until we go to Him through His word?

So what does Scripture say? Like the psalmist says in Psalm 73, “When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless until I entered God’s sanctuary.” The psalmist was looking at the way of the world and almost wishing he could be in their shoes until he came before God and faced his honest thoughts with truth.

The Word actually has many encouraging and beautiful things to say about prayer.

We are called to pray constantly.

“Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent? If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.”

Matthew 7:7-11

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

The idea of the verbs in Matthew 7 is a continual action. God wants His children to ask Him. He’s not begrudging our requests. He is a good Father. He wants to give us good things.

Yes, we struggle because sometimes our definition of good doesn’t align with His. But that again proves the importance of being constant in prayer. The more we are connected with Him, the more He will align our hearts and desires with His. In Romans 12, rejoicing, patience, and prayer are all connected. So isn’t it possible then that if we lack hope and patience in our lives, we have neglected the beauty of constant prayer?

We are called to give thanks.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I Thess 5:16-18

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Phil 4:6-7

To give thanks, we have to recall to mind all that God has done. This does not mean we can’t bring our hard or frustrating things to the Lord (“in everything” means we get to pray about ALL of life). But we have to remember who our God is. If we don’t, we will indeed get lost in the challenges of our circumstances.

He is the God who created the universe,
Man and woman,
And offered hope after the curse.
He is the one who showed favor to a no-name from Haren
And blessed his wife
Who was long barren.
He is the one who grew the Israelites into a nation
And gave them favor
To provide the foundation
Of His plan of grace,
To give the Savoir a birthplace.
Despite the rebellion of His own creation
And the years of wandering and waiting,
There was never a hesitation
To love His own
And make His glory known.

The same God who parted the Red Sea
Hears my every plea.
The same God who rescued Daniel from the lion’s den
Counts my tears, again and again.
The same God who called fishermen and tax collectors
Promises to be my protector.
The same God who allowed His Son to die for sin
Washes me clean from my filth within.
The same God who raised Jesus from the dead
Gives me hope through the Living Bread.

This, this is the God I hesitate to come to?
How little my faith is indeed
If I cannot see this God on my knees.

May God show us our lack of faith so that we may know Him better as we pray, day after day.

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