I grew up in church so prayer, fasting, and many of the other spiritual and religious practices were common knowledge for me. But despite my familiarity with church slang and formality, I lacked a personal relationship with God– this clearly reflected itself in my prayer life. I spent more hours going to church than I did in prayer, an act that Paul says we should be doing “continuously” (1 Thessalonians 5:1618). My prayer life (when I did pray, which wasn’t often) would consist of my stresses, worries, and pressing needs. When I began to take to my relationship with God seriously, to begin getting to know Him, my prayer life radically changed. I went from a needs-based prayer life to one of deep gratitude and love. As I learned the nature of God, I began to realize how much His grace had covered me despite my ignorance.
There is a famous quote that writes, “Prayer is the language of the dependent.” I was never dependent on God. Of course when things went right in my life I would say “God is good” or throw a “thank you Lord” up into the air but deep in my heart of felt completely independent, with no real need for God. Thus, the only time I came to God in prayer was when I didn’t feel in control. As soon as I felt like I was in control again, my prayers would cease.
If there is one thing I have learned in building my relationship with God it is the importance of living in a position of dependency on the Lord, even when things are going right. When I took the serious step to say, “God, I don’t just want you on Sundays, I want you everyday. Lord, I want you to change my life, I don’t want to abuse your grace any longer” I began to grow in my dependency. So naturally, as my dependency grew my prayer life deepened– and lengthened.
I have often seen how Christians will shame other Christians for not praying– it happened to me. I would be honest about the fact that I had not prayed in a while and people would immediately respond, “well, you got to pray”. In response to this I always thought, “Well, I don’t feel like i need to.” In hindsight, I wish someone would have addressed my lack of desire rather than attacking my actions (or lack thereof). Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life, but if we do not live a life in which we feel dependent on Him, we will not pray.
I have a few words of advice for anyone who struggles to find the desire to pray. Firstly, don’t beat yourself up about it. So many Christians get caught up in the “right” actions that we forget to get to the heart of the issue, the only thing that Jesus really cares about. Our works are the physical evidence of our faith, not the other way around. Secondly, simply focus on Jesus. In that I mean, simply begin to learn more about Him. Get back to why you became a Christian in the first place. If you’re like me, maybe you grew up in the church and you never had a choice. If that’s the case, play back the low times in your life and recognize God as the One who brought you out of it, even if you don’t feel like it now. When we change the perspective of our lives to on of which reflects God’s grace and favor on our lives, we will want to thank God, we will want to pray because we know He is the only one who could have done it. In short, don’t get so caught up in what you’re supposed to be doing, that you forget to address the heart of the issue– you lack of desire. Secondly, in order to build that desire, recognize God as sovereign and the ultimate Provider in your life.
I still don’t pray “continuously” like Paul directs us to, but I can say that I pray more today than I did a year ago. I depend on God more today than I did a few months ago. Everyday, I am growing in my knowledge, love, and maturity. For the aim in this Christian life is not perfection but progression.
This post was written by Nicole Williams; Thank you Nicole for blessing us this week by being a vessel for the word of God.