3 Reasons Why We Don’t Really Pray Every Day

A few years ago, LifeWay Christian Resources surveyed more than 1,300 evangelical leaders from around the world and asked what they perceived to be the “Top 10 Issues Facing Today’s Church.” What was #1?  Prayer: The need for more ongoing, passionate prayer in both personal and church life.

It seems odd, doesn’t it? Prayer is, after all, what Christians do.

Don’t they?

According to a 2005 survey by Brandeis University, 90% of Americans say they pray every day. Most of these are quick, on-the-move requests or thank-yous. Which is fine, of course.

They are not, however, what those church leaders were talking about.

Although there are many, many reasons for this deficiency, I’ve been thinking about three:

1. We don’t think about what it actually is.

“Yes, I do!” you protest vigorously. “I think about prayer! and praying!”

What is it, then?

Chatting with God?

Asking for things?

Trying to change God’s mind?

Prayer, stripped to a simple definition, is cooperating with God to release His power on earth. That cooperation occurs when we give Him our undivided attention. For a period of time. Every day.

 2.  We don’t have (take, make, set aside) time, daily.

“It’s impossible!” you protest vigorously. “I have a very, very busy life and a lot of responsibilities! (and, by the way, some of them are church responsibilities!)”

Well, okay. But we’ll have to tweak some Bible verses to accommodate this response. One that comes immediately to mind is Matthew 6:33: “Seek the kingdom of God. First.” You will notice there are no exceptions.

I remember the struggle when I had a 3-year-old and newborn twins, then a 5-year-old and 2-year-old twins, then. . . well, you get the idea. It was tempting to just do another load of laundry – or scrub something.

Fact is, when you pray is up to you.

  • Early in the day might work best
  • or lunchtime
  • or kids naptime
  • or later in the evening.

When her children were young, writer Anne Ortlund would set her alarm for 2 a.m.  It was her uninterrupted time with God.

Not suggesting, just sharing.

 How long is up to you, too. That you do it should be non-negotiable. Giving Him undivided attention. For a period of time. Every day.

3. We are distracted.

“I’m easily distracted!” you agree vigorously.

No wonder. In America, the average person spends 4 hours, 39 minutes watching television – daily. This is while we are using phone apps, checking social media, and/or texting.

And, the average U.S. internet user spends 32 hours each month online.

The universe of technologies is here to stay. Obviously. And everyone is reckoning with the time-spent factor.

A corollary to this contemporary dilemma is the effect on concentration. We can breeze, browse, skim, sample through our YouVersion Bible app, then pray on the move.

These things are not inherently bad. The trouble is that something else, something valuable and precious, is being sacrificed.

Real time. With God. Every day.

In her excellent study, Live a Praying Life, Jennifer Kennedy Dean says that God, “searches out an intercessor [or pray-er] upon whose heart He can place His own desires.”

That heart must have time with Him.

Beyond the know-I-shoulds and guilt-tripping is a supernatural realm of communion. God loves us and longs to take these short, ordinary lives we lead and do extraordinary and eternal things with them.

His method of choice is prayer. Real time. With Him. Every day.

If you are struggling with daily prayer, what changes could you make in your life today?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Erin on September 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

    This is a struggle for me for sure at times, but when I can and do make the time regularly, I yearn and grieve for that time when anything stands in the way of it. I know you are talking about undivided attention and not multitasking, but I like to spend a short time in the Word with God, I am learning to soap journal whatever verse speaks most directly to my heart. Then I like to go for a run and let God tell me more about what He wants. Sometimes this is directly related to the verse, sometimes I believe God uses the verse as an avenue to open my heart and mind to what He would like to say. I know that when I am able to do this, EVERONE and EVERYTHING in my life is just more doable.


  2. Love what you say about running and praying. I have walked and prayed for years.


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