Prayer is one of the places where the Lord is working on me. It’s not an in-your-face, all-the-time, kind of deal. It’s just one of those undercurrent realities. I can sense in this season that prayer – my need for prayer, my lack of prayer, my understanding of prayer – is something the Lord continually brings me back to. I think it began with a conversation with a local pastor and has been in the picture since.
Anyway, one of the things I’m learning is is that prayerlessness reveals certain things about my heart. Here are some.
1. Prayerlessness reveals that deep down I have an inordinate amount of confidence in myself. Self-confident people don’t pray. They trust that their might and the power of their hands can get things done. There’s a certain desperation that has to be born in your heart for you to pray. Prayer happens when I get to the place where I am helpless and desperate for God. I need God. Till then, I keep grinding it out. Prayerlessness means I have greater confidence in my ability to handle marriage, parenting, ministry, life than to seek God in those things. Helplessness drives me to prayer. Self-reliance keeps me from it.
2. Prayerlessness reveals that I will continually settle for manufacturings of the flesh rather than manifestations of the Spirit.
3. Prayelessness reveals that after all these years of being a Christian, I still don’t really get prayer.
4. Prayerlessness reveals that I value productivity in an ungodly way. I often neglect prayer because I have things to get done and can’t afford to “waste” time. There are so many times where I have opted for finishing one more task in the day than to leave it undone so that I can spend that time in prayer. I go Martha over Mary. I need to be productive. But why? To please a God that I don’t approach, talk to, or commune with in prayer? That doesn’t make sense. Ultimately, my productivity is so I can feel good about myself and justify my sense of worth. My sense of self-worth is still tied so tightly around what I accomplish and what I can produce rather than what Jesus has accomplished for me. Rather than resting in and receiving an identity given me by the Gospel through the efforts of Christ, I am still trying to achieve my identity through my own effort.
As I’m trying to fight this, here is a prayer I often pray as I drive home at the end of each day. “Lord, I have not finished everything I wanted to get done today. And I have not done everything as well as I wanted to. Thank You for another reminder that I am not You.” An A29 pastor taught me that. It’s simple, but it has been balm for my soul.
5. Prayerlessness reveals that I have not learned the lesson of Sabbath. The great step of faith in Sabbath is that without working, God will provide for His people. Israel is not permitted to go and gather food for one day each week. And they are to believe that God will provide for them and meet their needs. I work and live as though everything rests on me rather than being safe left in God’s Hands. I confuse the reality that God doesn’t need me to do anything. He gives me the privilege of playing for His team.
6. Prayerlessness reveals that I haven’t learned my lesson. The truth is that I don’t get done anything as well as when I do take the time to pray! Why don’t I get this? Why do I keep forgetting this? Personally, I am far more focused, less distracted, and consequently more productive after seeking the Lord in prayer. Otherwise, I touch a million things, and get 10 of them done. Without prayer, I do many things, but poorly. With prayer I do a few things, but well.