I’ve never met a Christian who said, “I think I pray enough.” Most of us struggle with prayer. There may be many reasons for this, but sometimes it’s simply that we don’t feel like praying. Our lack of desire isn’t just due to laziness, either. It is rooted in a much deeper unbelief. Many times we don’t desire to pray because we don’t truly believe that prayer will help us. We’re faithless, as often demonstrated by the fact that we don’t typically begin praying except as a sort of last resort. Before we can cultivate a passion for prayer, we must be reminded of the power of prayer.
Prayer is one of the primary means by which we discover God’s sovereign plan for our lives. We will not always feel like praying, but things are happening when we do. Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt. 17:20). Note the relationship between faith and prayer. Faith gives birth to prayer. Just as a newborn baby begins to coo, the born-again person is granted a new desire for communion with God through prayer. And yet, the weakness of our flesh (the same weakness that kept Jesus’ disciples from prayer; Matt. 26:41) often dampens the desire to pray. That weakness, together with the downpour of life’s circumstances, can extinguish our prayer lives altogether.
We need to fan into flame the embers of prayer within. These embers are kindled by faithful preaching on Sunday and our own private reading of Scripture throughout the week. Faith gives birth to prayer, but the Word of God by His Spirit gives birth to faith (Rom. 10:17). In my own life, I have found that there is a direct correlation between being filled with the Word of Christ and having the desire to commune with God in prayer. A lack of prayer comes from a lack of faith, which too often means we’ve taken our eyes off of God’s glory revealed in Scripture.
So to the Christian who says, “I just don’t ever feel like praying” (the kind I meet all the time), my encouragement is this: Discipline yourself for prayer anyway. Accept that the power of prayer comes not from whether you feel like praying but from faith in God’s promises. Immerse yourself in those promises, and you will find that there are moments in your life when prayer breaks out like a fire. You may also find that sometimes praying is like starting a car in winter: it takes time for the engine to warm up. That’s OK. Don’t quit when things feel cold, but dig deeper into the treasures of the gospel. That gospel begets faith, and that faith will ignite a heart of prayer.
Rev. Adriel Sanchez is senior pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church in San Diego and cohost of the Core Christianity radio program.