I hesitate to write on this subject because we all, including myself, know that we do not pray enough. I assume that we already feel a bit guilty about it too. I don’t want to stir up more guilt. We’ll never be motivated that way. I do, however, want to take an honest look at some of the more hidden reasons that we do not pray in hope that it may bring true conviction that leads to change.
We’re Not Aware Of Or Moved By The Spiritual Needs Around Us
After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. – II Chronicles 20
Sometimes we’re just not “alarmed.” If we’re honest we walk through our days without seeing things with spiritual eyes. We don’t really believe that there is a spiritual battle around us and that our prayers really make a difference. We’ve become desensitized and hard-hearted. We either don’t see the true spiritual condition of our campuses or we’re not moved by it. We need to be alarmed again.
We’re Not Trusting God For Something Bigger Than What We Can Accomplish
The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1
In a very real way, our prayer lives are a very accurate measure of the size of our vision. Simply put, if we’re trusting God to do something huge, we have to pray. Sometimes our prayers are mostly about asking God to bring things back to “normal” rather than having a vision for a preferred future.
Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. He wanted to see God do the impossible. He had to fast and pray.
We’re Trusting In Our Own Strategies And Abilities
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. – Acts 4
I love that Peter and John, after being persecuted, went right back to prayer. If it were me, I would be tempted to start making a plan of action, creating a strategy and next steps to deal with the persecutors. One way to try to measure whether we’re trusting in our own abilities is to compare the hours we spend in planning and staff meetings with the hours we spend in prayer together. If we’re spending more time planning, then we’re likely relying on our own abilities more than on the Holy Spirit.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.