Why is it so hard for Christians to pray?

This is a shortened version of an article written by David Wilkerson.

Scripture makes it clear that the answer to everything in our lives is prayer mixed with faith. Paul writes, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Paul’s emphasis is clear: Always pray first! We are not to pray as a last resort – going to our friends first, then to a pastor or counsellor, and finally ending up on our knees.

There are literally multitudes of broken Christians. Families are breaking up, spouses are divorcing, people who walked faithfully with Christ for years are living in fear and defeat. Each of these people has been overcome by something – sin, depression, worldliness, covetousness. And year after year, their problems only seem to get worse. Yet, what shocks me most about their letters is that very few of these Christians ever mention prayer. They turn to teachings, books, counsellors, call-in shows, therapies of all kinds – but rarely ever to prayer. They go through each day worrying, fretting, living with a cloud hanging over their heads, because they do not have an answer to their problems.

Why is it so hard for Christians, in times of crisis, to seek God for their desperate needs? After all, the Bible stands as one long testimony that God hears the cries of His children and answers them with tender love! (Psalm 34:15, 1 John 5:14-15, James 5:16 etc.).

I believe God is deeply wounded by the neglect of prayer among His people today. Jeremiah writes: “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32). How can God’s own people – who are under constant attack from hell, facing trouble and temptations on all sides – go week after week without ever seeking Him? And how can they claim to love Him and believe in His promises, yet never draw near to His heart?

We are already seeing the signs that prove we are close to a meltdown of our financial system: Violence and immorality are on the rise. Our society is pleasure mad. False prophets – “angels of light” – have already deceived many with their doctrines of demons. And, at any time, we can expect to see the hour of tribulation, which will cause men’s hearts to fail with fear. Yet, even with all these powerful warnings about the dangers of neglecting prayer, Christians still find it hard to pray. I believe there are four reasons why some Christians do not pray:

1. They have a lukewarm love for the Lord
When I use the word “lukewarm” to describe a person’s love for Jesus, I do not mean he is cold toward the Lord. Rather, I mean his love is “inexpensive” – not costly. When Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, he first commends them for all they have done. He acknowledges they have laboured hard in the faith – hating sin and compromise, refusing to accept false doctrines, never fainting or giving up when persecuted, always taking a stand for the gospel. But, Christ says, He holds one thing against them: They have forsaken their fervent, expensive love for him! (Revelation 2:4). Somehow amid all their good works, they left behind their loving, disciplined walk with Jesus.

You may say you love Him – but if you never show up to be with Him, you prove you do not love Him at all. That kind of behaviour would never cut it with another lover. If you told your girlfriend you loved her, but you only saw her once a week – just long enough to say, “Hi, honey, I love you, now goodbye!” – she wouldn’t put up with it. Why should Jesus, who gave His all – His very life – for you?

2. They have perverted their priorities
A priority is the importance you place on something. And Christians who neglect prayer have perverted their priorities! Many Believers pledge they will pray if and when they can find the time. Yet each week, seeking Christ becomes less important to them than washing the car, cleaning the house, visiting friends, eating out, going shopping and watching sports. They simply do not make time to pray. Today, thousands of Christians are travelling across the country just to be prayed over by some minister, prophet or evangelist. These Believers want to feel God’s touch and have some ecstatic experience of His presence. But even if they get what they are looking for, the experience only lasts a short time. And, ironically, the whole time they are travelling and seeking God’s touch, they do not spend five minutes in prayer!

I once met with the pastor of one of America’s largest churches. This man was one of the busiest ministers I had ever seen. He told me without apology, “I have no time to pray.” Yet, what he really meant was, “I don’t give any priority to prayer.”

3. They have learned to live without prayer
Many Christians think all that is required of them is to go to church, worship, listen to the preaching, resist sin, do their very best, and all will be well for them. This is the sacrifice they bring to God – and they think he is pleased with it! I have spent time at the bedsides of dying Christians who were faithful churchgoers for over fifty years. These people never missed a meeting. They were good, family people, and they could talk about every spiritual subject. But they had no prayer life whatsoever. They spent hours with their family, or sitting in front of a TV, or working on their hobbies – but they had no time to be alone with Christ.

I fear for every Christian who is learned to live comfortably with no daily prayer life – who has never had a growing communion with the Lord. Such people end up strangers to Him. The fact is you can easily spend a whole lifetime without prayer. In fact, I know of some very “successful” pastors and evangelists who have learned to minister completely without prayer. They can entertain you, tell you great stories and make you laugh. But they cannot convict you, change you, or move you to seek God’s face!

4. They do not believe God hears their prayers
Over time, many Believers get discouraged over unanswered prayers – and, finally, they simply give up. They think, “Maybe I just lack faith. All I know is, prayer does not work for me. And why should I pray if it doesn’t work?” Many unmarried Christian women tend to think this way. They say, “For years I’ve sought the Lord sincerely, asking Him to bring a godly man into my life. I have prayed for over a decade now. But nothing has happened!” So they try to make a marriage happen on their own – and disaster follows.

If God has delayed answering a particular prayer of yours, you can be sure He is testing your faith. He wants you to trust him when He appears to be silent. And He tests you, to see if you will say, “I give up. He doesn’t answer!” Ultimately, He wants your faith to come forth as pure as gold – so you will be equipped to receive many answers, both for you and for others!


What is the answer?

Go to your secret closet regularly and seek Him with all your heart. That is your answer to a healed marriage, to unsaved family members, to every need in your life. Your answers may not come overnight. Yet, God will do His work in His time and His way. Your part is to believe He is faithful to answer – because you are His beloved child!

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