Our Sunday School class this week discussed six excuses for not praying. These are:
- I am too busy to pray.
- I feel too dry spiritually to pray.
- I feel no need to pray.
- I am too bitter to pray.
- I am too ashamed to pray.
- I am content with mediocrity.
As you might expect, we got quite a bit of “mileage” out of these excuses. However, I think we missed the major reason why we (Christians in general) have problems with prayer. The problem it seems to me is that each excuse comes from a deficient understanding of our relationship with Christ. Most teaching on prayer pictures it as a one-way communication. We launch our prayers into the heavens and hope God gets the message. Perhaps we can picture it much like blogging. We do our posts and hope someone responds. It would probably be more surprising to us than getting “likes” and comments if we actually heard from God.
However, if, as I think, the purpose of prayer is to align us with God’s plans and purposes then, when we have reached the right point in our prayers, what happens is an answer to our prayers. And we can understand how God got it right. This is not to say we cannot speak all kinds of requests, arguments, supplications and so forth as we pray. Finding God’s will in our prayers does not mean we cannot give Him input as to our desires, wants, pains, or whatever. However, we always need to remember that Jesus taught us to pray, “your (God’s) will be done on earth” and not to pray “our will be done” as we are so inclined to do.
I do not think God’s responses to are prayers are always in events. A fortunate few hear Him verbally. Most times his messages in response to our prayers seem to be comforts, intuitions, inclinations, or a sense of certainty about something. This is why I think we need to concentrate more on developing our relationship with Christ so we are better at perceiving replies to our prayers rather than spending effort thinking about times, lengths, occasions and subjects of our prayers.