Luke 18:1 – Why Christians Don’t Pray
Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). We are exhorted to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and that prayerlessness is sin (1 Samuel 12:23). Then why don’t we pray?
The disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They didn’t ask Him to teach them how to pray, but simply “teach us to pray.” Yet when Jesus was in His great hour of need they could not pray. He said, “What, could ye not watch (pray) with me one hour” (Matthew 26:40)?
The average Christian spends less than ten minutes each day in prayer. Why don’t we spend more time in prayer? Most of us believe in prayer, at least in theory. Then why is it that we find it so hard to actually pray?
Why Christians Don’t Pray
- We don’t really believe. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We must really believe “He is” or we will never come to Him in prayer. If we don’t come to Him in prayer we inevitably don’t really believe.
We don’t believe God will hear or answer our prayers. We either don’t believe He is able to answer our prayer, our request is to big for Him, He can’t handle it, He’s too far removed (transcendent), or He doesn’t really care enough to intervene on our behalf.
Paul wrote, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed” (Romans 10:14)? We are unable or unmotivated to call on Him because of our unbelief. Think about it, if we knew that if we asked Him for something right now He would grant it, would we not go to Him in prayer? Of course, any of us would.
Let me encourage you, nothing is too hard or difficult for Him (Ephesians 3:20, Genesis 18:14, Job 42:2, Jeremiah 32:17 and 32:27, Luke 1:37, Matthew 19:26). God does care and desires to meet our every need (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:19). We must correct our thinking and then we will be free to seek Him in prayer (Proverbs 23:7a).
- The weakness of our flesh. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Our flesh is opposed to anything spiritual and will fight us all the way. Paul said, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are in contrary to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17). If you want to see how weak your flesh is try praying for an entire hour (Mark 14:37).
- We lack spiritual discipline. We may be saved, sanctified and Spirit-Filled, but without discipline we will never spend quality time with God in prayer. The Psalmist wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass” (Psalms 37:4-5).
Notice the verses says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord.” Many have the desire to pray but never get around to it. We may delight in the Lord and desire to spend time with Him but it takes commitment and discipline if we are to follow through on our desire and spend time with Him in prayer. No one will ever spends regular quality time in prayer without commitment and discipline.
We must have a resolve that nothing will get in our way of spending time with God. It will help to set apart a specific time for daily prayer. Once we get use to it, it will become easier and easier. It is important that we don’t give up if we happen to fall short and miss a day. If you miss one day just take up where you left off the next day and keep pressing on.
- We’ve left our first love. Jesus said to the church of Ephesus, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent” (Revelation 2:4). We no longer have that enjoyment of God’s presence we once had. We have left our first love and must return. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (Psalms 34:8).
Like many couples, we start off loving spending time with each other and as time goes on we let the fire die out and spend less and less time with each other. At the beginning of the relationship nothing could keep us apart. It’s the same with our relationship with God. We have forgotten that “in Your (His) presence is fullness of joy; at Your (His) right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalms 16:11).
- We don’t want God to interfere in our life. Hudson Taylor said, “Whenever we truly get alone with God, He’ll deal with our lives.” When we get alone with God in prayer, we put ourself in a place for God to work and mess in our life.
Like the rich young ruler He begins to put His finger on things in our life (Matthew 19:16-22). Not to spend regular time in prayer shows an unwillingness for God to work and have His way in our life. Let’s expose ourself to Him in prayer allowing Him to do what He desires in us. We will be the better for it.
- There’s sin in our life. John Bunyon said, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin as sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” Think about it, when we have had failure in any area, we are less likely to spend quality time with God. This is usually on our part, not God’s. We feel guilty and unworthy and unmotivated to approach Him. This is why we must keep ourself in right standing and immediately make things right with Him when we have failed (1 John 1:5-9).
Actually, when we have had some type of failure, the first thing we should do is boldly run into His presence. The Bible says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Notice, we are to approach the throne of grace with boldness in order to obtain mercy and find grace to help. Mercy is not giving us what we deserve, whereas grace is giving us that which we do not deserve. To obtain mercy denotes we have messed up in someway and therefore we are in need of mercy. When we have failed, let’s boldly run to Him instead of running away from Him.
- Laziness. Prayer is often laborious. It was said of Epaphras that he was “always labouring fervently for you in prayers” (Colossians 4:12). Prayer takes effort and work if we are praying as we ought. Paul requested of the Romans, “I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me” (Romans 15:30). We must strive in prayer to God. Therefore, our lack of prayer is often the result of laziness.
We are exhorted, “not slothful (lazy or sluggish) in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “That ye be not slothful (lazy or sluggish), but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). Prayer demands thought, concentration, effort, resolve and persistence.
Let’s discipline ourselves in seeking the face of God. Isaiah cried, “There is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee” (Isaiah 64:7). Let’s stir up ourselves to lay hold of God, labouring fervently in prayers”.
- We don’t prioritize prayer. We don’t have time to pray or more accurately, we don’t make time to pray. Other things take priority over prayer. This is proof of idolatry (1 John 5:21). We are to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Even those in full time ministry let things sneak in to rob us from spending quality time with God in prayer – sermon preparation, visitation, church administration, counseling, etc. These things are often spiritual in nature, but nonetheless distractions. Nothing should take priority over time with the Lord.
Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer.”
R.A. Torrey said it ever so clearly, “We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little. Many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results.”
- We become discouraged. Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). We can often become fainthearted when we don’t see the results to our prayers right away. We get discouraged and give up.
Jesus goes on to teach us a parable of a widow who goes to an unjust judge seeking help. The judge seems to ignore and refuse to listen to her. She is undaunted by his refusal and relentlessly continues going to him with her request until he says, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (Luke 18:4-5).
Jesus went on to say, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:6-8)?
Jesus is challenging us in this parable not to ever give up. Though the answer to our prayer delays and does not come immediately, we are to continue seeking God until we see the results we are seeking. This persistence in prayer is the type of faith God is looking for in His people.
- We lack the spirit of prayer. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Prayer. Paul wrote, “You have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry out, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
When we are adopted into the family of God through the new birth, God’s Spirit begins to reside in us and is constantly crying out from within us to the Father in prayer. If we do not have a sense of the Holy Spirit crying out to God from within us we may not have received His Spirit through the new birth.
If we have been born again and aren’t stirred by the Spirit of prayer, perhaps we need a fresh charge of this Spirit of Prayer or we need to be filled anew with the Holy Ghost. Let’s ask God to fill us afresh and anew with the Holy Ghost and cause His fire to burn within us.
When we are filled with the Holy Ghost, we will find the Spirit of God crying out from within us in prayer and praise. Disciplining ourselves in our time in God’s Word and prayer will help to rekindle this in our life (Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16). I have noticed, the more time I spend in prayer, the more I sense the Holy Spirit crying out from within me to God.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for my lack of faith, for letting things take priority over spending time with You, for being negligent in my prayer life, and becoming faint hearted. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me to seek You in prayer as I should. In Jesus’ name, Amen!