I have gone to church pretty much my entire life. In that time, I have heard thousands of time about the importance of prayer. There are books, podcasts, blogs, websites, songs, and a plethora of other sources telling us that we need to pray.
Then there are the church signs, Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagrams, quotes, and such that are pithy and meant to guilt us into praying more. Not mention the idea that most have about so and so in the church that prays all the time and there’s no way we can measure up to them, so we let them pray for us.
We know we need to pray more. We say we need to pray more.
Yet we don’t.
In my experience as a pastor, I have heard countless times people asking various questions about prayer… how, when, where, how often, how to be effective, feeling unheard, not knowing what to pray… and on and on the list goes.
It’s not a matter of understanding the importance or value of prayer, it’s just gets so easily pushed aside by life. Because prayer is with a God we know to be loving and merciful, we know He will understand and is flexible about when we pray and so it gets put off and then put off again and then again until we are hurriedly saying a quick prayer as we fall asleep if at all.
Plus, just being completely honest, prayer feels awkward at times. You know it’s true. In a purely empirical sense, we are talking to ourselves. Of course, we aren’t. We are actually talking to the only One who can make any real difference in our life and future. The only One who can meet our truest needs.
Because we feel awkward with it, we make it more awkward in the way we pray because we think it has to fit a formula or meet some standard and so it loses the natural, organic feel of a conversation.
For example, when was the last time you spoke to your friend like this….
Dear friend, thank you, friend, for being my friend, and for coming here today, friend, to talk to me my friend. And, dear friend, I have something, friend, I need to ask you, friend, to do for me, my friend….
You get the idea.
Yet that is what we do in our prayers to God. It doesn’t feel natural to us, so it makes it harder to be consistent is reaching out to Him.
Then there is the whole no immediate visual or audible feedback thing. The famous statistic is that 93% of all communication in a conversation is non-verbal; body language, facial expression, etc. Whether or not that number is accurate matters little. The fact is, we rely on a host of data in our communication with others and very little of that is possible in a conversation with God because that is based on faith.
Of course, no discussion about why we don’t pray would be complete without mentioning the distractions of life: family, technology, entertainment, career, friends, sports, daily necessities, and on and on.
So, we don’t pray because it doesn’t offer us immediate feedback, it feels awkward, and life gets in the way with all the distractions.
Yes, there are other reasons people don’t pray that are quite personal and individual, but these are some good broad reasons that affect a large number of us.To pray more, we need to first recognize why we don’t pray and begin to work on overcoming those obstacles.