6 Reasons Why You Might Struggle to Pray
Statistics show that 22 percent of 18-29-year-olds pray seldom to never, and 36 percent of 30-49-year-olds pray at least once a month (1). The statistics continue to show that as the new generations come along, fewer and fewer people are teaching children and their families the value of prayer (2). A surprisingly large share of people who pray (14%) admitted that they don’t know if God responds to peoples’ prayers or, if He does, how He responds. Perhaps you are one of those people who have stopped finding joy in prayer and have allowed doubt to settle in your heart and fog your connection with God. If so, allow God to pinpoint the reasoning, and bring His light to that area so you can find freedom from that doubt and rekindle your connection and passion for the Lord.
6 Common Reasons People Stop Praying
God’s original intent when creating us in the garden was to make us an extension of His family–for us to be His children. Scripture also makes mentions that we are His bride. In order to have a relationship with a father or even a husband, there has to be a level of communication and intimacy that is shared through those conversations. It is because of this design that we are drawn to pray to God. It is through these moments that we develop an intimate relationship with Him and begin to know Him as the personable God that He is instead of a distant creator. Since our beginning in the garden, Satan always attempted to break our connection to God and lead us away from Him through sin and shame. And today, he continues as best as he can to prevent you and I from spending time with God in prayer.
A praying man stops sinning and a sinning man stops praying. – Leonard Ravenhill
Let’s look at a portion in Scripture where the devil played a role in preventing God’s people from praying. In Daniel 6, the king made a decree that everyone should pray to Him alone, and if they did not they would be severely punished.
The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.Daniel 6:7
The devil operates in a similar manner. Behind the scenes, the devil pushes his agenda of prayerlessness among believers in the form of excuses, laziness, busyness, and sin. He will use everything in his arsenal to drive you away from prayer. This is because a Christian with a prayer life is unstoppable in God. Once you have a prayer life, you will be a conqueror and move mountains with God. Every man of God in the Bible had one common denominator—they had a great relationship with God and a prayer life. If the devil can take away your prayer life, then he will be able to take away your destiny and spiritual walk with God.
If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. -Anonymous
Our Fallen Nature
It has been in our nature to run away from God since the garden of Eden. If you recall the story of Adam and Eve, you’ll notice that when God began to call them in the garden, they answered from behind the bushes in shame.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”Genesis 3:8-10
This is a representation of what happens to us till this day. Even though we are born-again, we have a tendency to run from God when we fall into sin instead of running toward Him in repentance. Many run because they don’t know what to say to God in prayer so they hide behind the bushes of busyness. Some try to please God by hiding behind good works and self-righteousness instead of communing with Him. Whatever the case may be, we must understand that it’s in our nature to not pray, and that is what we must fight.
Prayer is not just saying “I’m sorry,” “thank you,” or “bless me,” but it’s the place where if you open up your heart, God can meet you, and His presence can change your life. And it is for that very reason that the devil will use busyness, shame, or other distractions to create excuses as to why you should run from the place you were meant to dwell.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.Psalms 91:1
Previously Unanswered Prayers
When God answers our prayers, joy comes into our lives, and a sense of reassurance that God hears us is added. But equal devastation can come when there seems to be no response. There are many people who have prayed to God in moments of desperation with no response. It is not easy to handle life when we experience unanswered prayers. We don’t know for sure why there are some prayers where all we hear is silence but there could be a few reasons. For instance, praying with the wrong motive, not asking for the right thing, having unforgiveness or unconfessed sins, having doubts, or mistreating your spouse.
One thing as a believer we must be on high alert about is the devil’s devices. The devil will often use offense and disappointment to create a blockage between you and God. As hard as it may be, don’t allow that instance to build a belief within you that God is not real or that He does not listen to you. Instead, take time to read His Word. Fill yourself with it because in doing so, you’ll find the truth about His character and His unfailing promises which will shine a light on the lies of the enemy in your mind that might have been caused by past disappointments with prayer.
Every person with a great prayer life in this world has some unanswered prayers.
Sometimes those prayers get answered later on in life and sometimes they don’t get answered. If this is so, what keeps their prayer lives going? The presence of God!
Prayer warriors don’t go into prayer to use God, but rather to know Him.
I want to encourage you to give prayer another shot. There will always be things that you and I don’t understand because God is bigger than us. He doesn’t owe us an explanation for anything, rather we owe Him our allegiance and our lives. There will be a time when God will explain why certain things happened and why things were unanswered, but while we are on this side of eternity, we need to kick aside every offense and disappointment.
Push them aside and don’t let them stop you from intimacy and communication with God.
Not Knowing What To Say
Some people find prayer difficult, boring, and uninteresting because they lack the words. A template isn’t needed every time you pray, but if it doesn’t come easily, it might be a good place to start.
By saying a “template” I mean praying according to biblical models of prayer like the Lord’s prayer. It can be used if you don’t have any specific promptings or directions while you’re praying. For instance, you can begin by reading the Bible and then going into prayer by using the Lord’s prayer as a template. Here is an example of what I mean:
Using the Lord’s prayer, you can pray (Matthew 6:9-13):
- Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name—talk to God about your relationship with Him.
- Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven—talk to God about His agenda on this earth. Pray for your city, your pastors, your nation, your leaders, etc.
- Give us today our daily bread—ask God for your needs.
- Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors–talk to God about your relationships.
- Lead us not into temptation—talk to God about your weaknesses.
- Deliver us from evil— talk to God about things that may have a stronghold on your life, such as sugar, caffeine, or unhealthy habits or obsessions you may have with something or someone. Ask God to deliver you from it.
- For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever— Proclaim His goodness.
This is a template I often recommend to those who struggle to find the right words to pray. There are other helpful biblical prayer patterns, such as the Tabernacle prayer, the prayer of Jabez, the prayer of Solomon, and the prayer of the redemptive names of God.
For those who think this is a mechanical way of praying, please remember that God sees your heart. Direct the prayers from your heart to the Lord; don’t make your prayer mechanical and religious, with methods and rules. Pray about your relationship with Him. God can use and bless this approach to prayer if you approach it genuinely. If you feel you have nothing to say to God or feel as if you are repetitive in prayer, I urge you to try a prayer template to help to improve your prayer time.
The belief that Prayer is Pointless
Many Christians also feel like there is no point to prayer. Some wrongfully believe that prayer won’t change their lives, situations, or future because their fate is sealed. However, this is not a biblical mindset. In Scripture, we see many examples of how prayer changes circumstances. For example, King Ahab was supposed to be punished, but after he fasted and prayed, God extended His mercy to him.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s time.1 Kings 20:27-29
Similarly, Nineveh was supposed to be destroyed due to sin, but after fasting and praying, God again extended His mercy.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.Jonah 3:10
Hezekiah was supposed to die, but he prayed to God and his life was extended.
Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.2 Chronicles 32:26
And the Bible gives many other examples. Although prayer doesn’t change God, it can change your circumstance. And if it does not change your circumstance, it will change you.
Prayer is not pointless!
God’s power will flow in your life through prayer. You need to return to prayer and start talking to God. The idea that there is nothing that you can do to change your future is wrong. Prayer and fasting change destinies, families, communities, nations, and even continents.
God Will Act Regardless of Your Prayer
Many think that God will do whatever He wants to do regardless if we pray or not. Although God’s promises are true and He doesn’t need our help to answer prayers, He still wants to hear our voices. This is why Jesus invites us to pray and tells us to ask so that our joy will be complete.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.John 16:24
The Bible also tells us to bring our request to God and He will give us His peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Phillipians 4:6-7
Even though God had already promised Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, they still cried out for the promised land. God did not just fulfill His promise to Israel, but He answered their cries. Why did they cry out if God was going to what He promised regardless? Because God wants us to partner with Him.
If we want heaven to get involved in our situations, we need to give heaven a license to, which we can do by praying. Invite God into your affairs. Because many of us treat prayer as pointless, we don’t see God’s miracles or activities in our lives. Others think God’s sovereignty covers the need for prayer and therefore don’t include Him in their lives, but that belief is not biblical. Even men of God prayed for things that were promised to them. For instance, when God told Elijah that if he shows himself to Ahab, He would send rain. The Bible says that Elijah fervently prayed, and God answered his prayer by sending rain.
Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain…So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.1 Kings 18:1, 42
In another portion of Scripture, Jesus prayed so the Father would send the promised Holy Spirit to His disciples.
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.John 14:16
The men of God in the Bible did not view prayer as pointless or as a way of getting God to do what they wanted. Prayer was known as the way of communicating, conversing, and having a relationship with God.
They prayed because they believed it mattered.
God’s response will not only be a fulfillment of His promise, but also an answer to your requests. How many promises of God do we fail to see because we are not partnering with God in prayer?
Let Jesus be your role model in prayer.
Jesus lived a very prayerful life. As the Son of God on earth, He was very busy but He still found time to talk to the Father. He prayed when He was being baptized in the water and when He chose His disciples. He prayed on the Mount of Transfiguration. He prayed before being arrested for His crucifixion in the garden of Gethsemane and while on the cross. And now, Jesus is constantly praying for you.
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.Romans 8:34
Our Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest; He is our greatest Prayer Warrior and Intercessor. His lifestyle demonstrates the importance of prayer.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.Hebrews 4:14
I hope this blog has highlighted areas where you might have been tempted to run from prayer and helped you understand that God wants to hear you and He misses you when He doesn’t. It is time to come back to your prayer room and intercession time. It is time to be renewed and recalibrated to your prayer life.
If you’ve never had a prayer life, I implore you to not waste your life away by running from prayer. Prayer doesn’t waste time, it saves time by allowing God to help you avoid stupid decisions, temptations, and unnecessary damage in life.
Spend time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Read the Scriptures. And remember that you can either live in the secret place or in secret sin, but you can’t do both.
Run back to God.
Resources: Most Americans Pray But Disagree about How Prayer Works, August 7, 2022, https://missionsbox.org/press-releases/most-americans-pray-but-disagree-about-how-prayer-works/ Frequency of prayer, 2014, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/frequency-of-prayer/
I pray this was a blessing. Please share this blog and let me know what you think!