Review: After reading through 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, 1 Thessalonians3:9-13 and Colossians 1:9-14 what have your learned about Paul’s prayer habits, and how is it impacting yours?
After reading Paul’s prayers, I have learned that I need to change. Thanks to God’s words, I have some specific things I can change. Like…
- I can be more observant of signs of grace that reveal God working in people’s lives (and my life too)
- I can generate prayers of thanksgiving
- I can start paying closer attention to God’s work
- I can support God’s work in the lives of others by getting involved
I have learned that being counted worthy of the kingdom of God (2 Thess. 1:5, Col 1:10) should be a focus of my prayer life. Not that I would earn entrance by my own merit, but (because I have been redeemed by God) I aim now to use this life to become more like Christ – to please Him with my life. I need His help, and I need to pray to this end.
I’ve learned that the focus in my prayer life should be on Jesus coming back, rather than all the things I want or the circumstances that I am upset about right now.
Pointing out what I need to change is great because it addresses how I can start to change, but I also need to address those pesky little things that keep me from changing…excuses, excuses.
6 Common Excuses For Not Praying
1. I am too busy to pray
“I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” -Martin Luther
Luther had an interesting perspective. Our busy-ness should actually motivate us to prayer, that is if we have a view to what is most important.
In addition to the commitment of Jesus to get away for time of prayer, Luke 10:38-42 illustrates the choice we all have to make prayer a priority. In the dichotomy of Martha being busy (serving people that needed to be served) and Mary who chose what was better (to sit at Jesus’ feet and fellowship with Him) – the choice to engage in fellowship and prayer was not just what was better, but what was needed. This doesn’t mean we neglect responsibilities, but it does mean that we see our biggest responsibility as fellowship with God through prayer.
2. I feel too dry spiritually to pray
This assumes that how I feel spiritually is the basis by which God will accept me. This subverts the gospel by turning it from what Jesus did on the cross to how I feel. It also assumes that my feelings should be the controlling factor of my prayer life. That is self centered. My obligation to pray should not be based on how I feel, but rather what God has done – which, when viewed correctly, has a profound impact on my feelings.
Rom 12:12 states “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”, that is a command that we can only attempt to obey because of a focus on God pouring out His wrath on His son, and then giving us every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3)…again, this is based on what God did through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, and that is why I should be faithful in prayer even when I don’t feel like it – it may be just what I need to realign my thinking and feelings.
3. I don’t feel a need to pray
How often do we pray when things are going well? Paul didn’t just pray because of trial and conflict, he recognized the ongoing need for growth. There is always a need for prayer because we have not reached maturity. Jesus has not yet returned, so there’s still a need to pray.
4. I am too bitter to pray
Ephesians 4:32 states, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Christ took on our guilt, our shame and our punishment to forgive us our sins. How can we think we are in a position to withhold forgiveness when we ourselves have been forgiven our eternal offense against God?
In fact, based on Matt 6:14-15 and Mark 11:25, we are to display our need for God’s forgiveness by forgiving others. If we are unwilling to forgive others it means we have a fundamental misunderstanding of our need for forgiveness and God’s provision.
5. I am too ashamed to pray
Adam & Eve’s first response to their sin, and subsequent guilt and shame, was to hide from God. Seems kind of silly to try to evade the one who just created you, but we do that same thing. Man’s ways are in full view of the lord (Prov 5:21; Heb 4:13).
God knows what we have done. To try to hide it from Him (or not bring it to Him) is to ignore the character of God. He wants us to come to Him. Even when Adam and Eve sinned, God’s plan of redemption was laid out and there was a provision to atone for the sin and shame of mankind. We can come to Him, He took care of our shame through the cross of Christ.
6. I am content with average
Often times we don’t want to get down to the level of our motivation, down to the heart level, so that we can really change and grow. We don’t pray because we know we may have to go deeper into our relationship with God than we are comfortable with; it will most likely be humbling and revealing.
The fact of the matter – we have heart issues that cause conflict (James 4:1-10). We have an adulterous relationship with the world and we ignore God because of it.
We often don’t want to be honest about heart issues, that’s hard! So, ultimately, that becomes an excuse not to pray to God, who is aggressively working to reveal your heart issues so that He can conform you to become more like Christ (Rom 8:28-29)
Don’t be satisfied with your relationship with God being static…he will settle for nothing less than your whole heart and your full allegiance. Prayer is a key component to growing and changing; it cannot be dismissed if you desire a deeper meaning and relationship with God – there is power in prayer!
I’ve given some common excuses that are often made for not praying…but maybe you can think of others that you’ve made too? How would you begin to think about them through the grid of the Gospel?