Allow me a moment of confession. There are seasons and days and moments in my life when I don’t pray. If you’re honest with yourself (and the rest of us), you have also shared such moments and days and seasons. Because we fail to pray does not co-sign us to the pit, but neither is it ok. When I have struggled through seasons of prayerlessness, I have found it greatly informing to ask one simple question. Why am I not praying?
Admittedly, over the course of my life there have likely been dozens of answers to that question. Let me share a few of the ones that I have noticed most often. I’ll share them in reverse order of their severity.
I Am Distracted
This may be the one that is also most common. Let’s face it, we all get busy. Too busy. Schedules and kids and work and life drown out the sound of silence. Fact is, we almost feel a sense of discomfort if/when life isn’t moving a million miles a minute. Our ADD American culture supports (and even exalts) this way of life. Jesus modeled the solution. His practice was to intentionally go away from the noise. Repeatedly we find Jesus leaving the crowds to talk to his father.
I Am Wandering
In the late sixteenth century St. John of the Cross wrote a poem called Dark Night of the Soul. It chronicled his own journey, parts of which were characterized by great darkness and feelings of abandonment and separation from God. In my own life I can attest to times where God’s voice was silent and I just felt lost. As I evaluated those seasons, they were almost devoid of prayer. I really only see one moment in Jesus’ life where he felt this way and that was at his death. Yet even in his feelings of abandonment, his instincts were to cry out to his father.
I Am Independent
This is the saddest (and scariest) answer of all. It’s the hardest to admit. There are many moments of my prayerlessness when I realize that I am not praying because I do not feel that I “need God”. Of course I am wrong. Of course Jesus never experienced this. Here’s how I see it. What is prayer in the first place? Prayer is ultimately dependence. It’s saying, “God I can’t. You must.” Not in demanding fashion. It is desperation. It is worship. This is the ugliest reason of all and as such, the one I do battle with most severely.
Prayer is our greatest privilege. What a beautiful benefit to commune with God in this way. There will most certainly come times when I don’t pray. Ask “why” and get back to it.