Some days, I get into bed and realize: I haven’t said a single prayer all day. I didn’t say “Thank you Lord” when I woke up that morning (late because I shut off the alarm clock and immediately fell back asleep). I didn’t say “Bless this food” as I dug into my lunch sitting at my desk. I didn’t say “Lord, keep me safe” on the drive home from work. I didn’t pray in a thousand other moments throughout my day. Not once.
Maybe you can relate.
Our schedules are jam-packed, often with good things that we don’t want to give up. We run from thing to thing, from meeting to event, in such a rush that we forget who it is that fills our life with good things (Ps. 103:5).
We forget to say thank you. We become like the 10 lepers Jesus healed on his way to Jerusalem (Lk. 17:11-19). Only one Samaritan man came back to give praise to God. But that is not us. We are the nine who went on our way.
In the Desiring God blog Do You Pray Enough?, author Jon Bloom writes, “Why don’t we pray more? The answer is very simple and very convicting: we don’t pray more because we don’t really believe it will do much good.”
Is that true?
We are commanded to pray in the Bible over and over. Bloom lists several examples:
- “Be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12)
- Pray “at all times in the Spirit… with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18)
- Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6)
- “Continue steadfastly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2)
- “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- “Always… pray and [do] not lose heart” (Luke 18:1)
Are we just ignoring these commands because we think prayer doesn’t work?
Bloom explains that our culture of productivity has influenced this belief.
“Our personal, cultural, and religious experiences have helped reinforce a belief that doing more tends to produce more than praying more. So as ‘Bible-believing’ Christians, we officially affirm what the Bible teaches us about prayer, but neglect it in practice, because we don’t functionally believe the Bible’s teaching about prayer,” Bloom writes.
Honestly, he has a point. From an early age, we are taught that hard work produces results. Do you want to go to college? Work hard in high school to achieve good grades. Do you want to be a doctor? Work hard in college and medical school to achieve that dream. We don’t tell kids to “Pray and it will happen.” We tell them to work for it.
I’m not saying that we should all stop working and pray that we still have food on our table. What I am saying is that there are approximately 450 answers to prayer recorded in the Bible. And maybe we should be more willing to believe that our prayers can be answered too.
After all, Bloom writes that the Bible gives us motivation to pray: God’s promise of reward.
- “Be constant in prayer” so that spiritual grace gifts and love will abound in the church (Romans 12:6-13).
- Pray “at all times in the Spirit… with all perseverance” so that we will be protected from powerful satanic attack, and the gospel will be proclaimed accurately and boldly (Ephesians 6:10-20).
- Pray about everything in order to be relieved of troubling anxieties and allow the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6-7).
- “Continue steadfastly in prayer” for the sake of remaining spiritually alert and seeing the manifold grace of God that prompts thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2).
- “Pray without ceasing” in order that there will be unity and love and appropriate submission and patience and joy in the church (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18).
- “Always… pray and not lose heart” so that we receive what it is that we desperately want and need from God, whose heart is to give his elect justice (Luke 18:1-8).
There it is in plain English. According to Scripture, prayer protects us satanic attack, relieves us of anxiety, keeps us spiritually alert, grants us unity in the church, and gives us what we need from God. And that’s only the beginning.
Let those promises wash over you.
Bloom writes, “The secret to fueling our growth in prayer, to cultivating prayer as a more pervasive ‘habit of grace’ in our lives, is to fan the fire of our faith in the promises of God.”