Why I Don’t Pray

Read your Bible and pray everyday…
Pray every day…
Pray every day…
Read your Bible and pray everyday…
And you will grow grow grow.

So the children’s Sunday school song goes, and it is blessed, wonderful advice. I wish I had headed it growing up. I wish I headed it more. The song is true to its core. We will grow if we pray and study the word every day. Consider the giant of the faith George Müller, who sustained a ministry of the word and caring for tens of thousands of orphans for over 60 years, without any income, and without ever asking anyone for a single pence, (This was the 1800’s in Britain) but simply prevailed upon God in prayer to supply all of his needs, and the needs of his 2000 dependents and all the staff according to His great riches.

Such a life demonstrates the truth of James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (ESV)

And yet, I don’t pray. At least not near as often as I should.

But why don’t I pray? What is wrong with my heart that causes me not to pray, not to pour over the word on my knees in search of great promises to build my life on?

I offer some possibilities:

1. The Sin of Unbelief

I must be willing to admit that a big aspect is simply the sin of unbelief. I don’t trust God as I should. I am inclined to find so many other things to trust in before I trust in the living God. My job, my health, my church, my own abilities. How foolish this is! I must repent of my unbelief and turn to God in prayer.

2. The Sin of Pride

Clearly following from the first is something that undergirds my unbelief, which is my own self-sufficiency. If I could just work a little harder, if I could just do a little better, if I could just _____ then I would be ok, more at peace, happier,

I must remember that God hates the proud, (Proverbs 6:17) and God opposed the proud. (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6)

I must remember that I really am insufficient for “such things”. Which brings me to point 3, what “such things”?

3. The Purpose To Which I am Orienting My Life

And by orienting my life, I mean today, when I wake up, what purpose am I engaged in? What am I to set about to do today? A life can’t be lived, only days, hours and moments. Right now, this instant what am I setting out to do?

Am I caught up in the pursuit of worldly pleasures and joys? A clean house, a fit body, a tasty meal. Is it a life lived inward seeking some happiness in trivialities?

Or is it a life lived Godward, seeking his glory and pleasure? Is it a life lived outward in love to neighbour, seeking his eternal joy together with mine in knowing God? This is the life of true happiness, for this is eternal life. (John 17:3)

If it is the latter, then it is clear that I am truly insufficient for “such things”. For if I am to know God, then I must first be known by God, (Gal 4:9, Rom 8:29) and if I am to see others come to know God, I must realize that I am nothing, but God is the one who gives the growth. (1 Cor 3:7)

And that brings us back to where we started, “Read your Bible and pray everyday, and you will grow grow grow.”

So for me it is clear I must repent of unbelief and pride, so integrally connected, but even deeper, I must be about the Lord’s work each and every day, fulfilling the purpose to which I was created: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Then in realizing my absolute inability to accomplish such a purpose, perhaps I will turn to the the only two things I have at my disposal for such a task: the Word of God, and prayer.

Lord today, in this moment make me about the work to which you have called me, to so live and act as to magnify Christ by showing him to be an absolutely  sufficient treasure, so valuable it makes the treasures of this life appear as garbage in comparison, and complete my joy by bringing others into that enjoyment with me, by the power of your Spirit, in the name of your Son I pray.