Overcome Prayerlessness — The Struggle to Pray

Before we develop strategies to overcome prayerlessness, we must first understand why we face such a struggle to pray. Why does prayer sometimes seem so difficult? For many Christians, the struggle to develop a consistent prayer routine feels insurmountable. Why does prayer appear easy for some and difficult for others?

Perhaps you’ve noticed how new Christians blubber and flounder through prayer and yet often see immediate and incredible answers? Yet, mature faith-filled Christians may labor in prayer intensely without seeing such immediate results. Why?

The foundation of all prayer is based upon relationship — our relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we talk to God, we call it prayer. It embodies worship and thanksgiving, petition and request, soul sharing and questioning, or even stillness. For each of us, prayer will look slightly different, because we are uniquely made.

My relationship with God will not duplicate yours. God loves us uniquely and perfectly, but never forces Himself upon us. He patiently waits for us to communicate with Him.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Ephesians 6:18

An Enemy

Satan knows all to well how powerful prayer is against him and his demonic agendas. He makes stopping our prayers one of his primary focuses. When he keeps us from prayer, he keeps us from one of the main avenues of relational growth between God and us. Prayerlessness keeps our primary weapon sheathed and unused against him.

Without prayer we become weak and ineffective. We remain powerless in and of ourselves. Everything worthwhile flows from God. Jesus used the illustration of a vine connected to the main branch to demonstrate the point.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

But even after knowing this truth, we struggle to pray. Why?

Perceived Failure

I believe one of the greatest reasons we hesitate to pray is because of perceived failure. We look around at other Christians who tell of incredible results through prayer — healing, financial provision, relationships restored, and more. Our own prayers seem meager in comparison.

This discouragement is called Learned Helplessness. When we face a difficulty and experience continued pain in spite of our efforts, Learned Helplessness takes over. We often refer to the condition as resulting from abuse or neglect, where the victim stops trying. But I believe we can develop a type of Learned Helplessness in prayer.

Perhaps we tried prayer. God appeared silent. When we tried to pray again, the answers remained illusive. So we ask others to pray for us. We call the pastor or priest, the prayer line — anyone we believe might have a direct connection to God. This prayer helplessness blinds us to the reality that we all have a direct prayer connection.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.”
1 John 5:14-15

That one word, confidence, unlocks the door to prayer. Learned Helplessness robs us of all confidence.

Overcome

God offers solutions to anyone who identifies with this common struggle to pray.

  • Return to the basics of our love relationship with God. Notice how Jesus taught His disciples to pray within relationship to the Father,

“Jesus told them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father….'”
Luke 11:2

  • Punt any guilt or shame to the curb. Ask a close friend to hold you accountable to daily times of prayer. It may feel like a struggle at first, but celebrate every success.
  • Focus on personal improvement not on answers to prayer. If five minutes is a struggle, then press through for five minutes. As you gain confidence, stretch it to ten minutes, increasing gradually.
  • Include worship and gratitude in prayer. God doesn’t need to hear how great He is, but we need to remember.

By starting simple and keeping our focus on relationship with God, prayer will become more joyous. It takes forty days to create a habit. Don’t be hard on yourself, if you don’t immediately achieve success.

Other Reasons

Perhaps you don’t identify with Learned Helplessness in prayer. Maybe one or more of these other obstacles relate more to your situation. These are common ones for me.

  • Busyness and distraction:
    • Do I place work and other obligations before God?
    • Do I take prayer for granted because it is always available?
  • Santa List:
    • Do I value what God does for me more than I value who God is?
    • Have I begun to focus on results rather than relationship?
  • Impatience:
    • When God doesn’t respond when or how I desire, do I become impatient?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Prayer Power

We all face seasons when either prayer becomes a struggle or flows as easy as water from a cup. You are in good company either way. God keeps the doorway to prayer wide open for each of us, but He waits for us to take the initiative to walk through the doorway into His Presence. Indescribable power awaits those who come to Him.

I encourage each of us to take a few moments to discover ways to improve and grow in the discipline of prayer. God desires prayer to be a joy rather than a losing battle for us.

To step into a greater level of prayer power:

  • First, let’s ask God to help us discover any prayer blocks hindering us.
  • Then, let’s verbally renounce or reject any hindrance Holy Spirit reveals.
  • Next, ask God for one step to overcome the obstacle He has shown us.
  • Finally, let’s move step by step into prayer action from inaction.

Congratulations! If you have followed these four steps you have already begun your victoriour prayer walk from Learned Helplessness to prayer power. Celebrate your first win!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

God alone knows the great harvest that awaits each of us when we overcome the struggle to pray!

Resources

I have written two books on developing and increasing in prayer potential:

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

and

Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory Through Prayer

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Proverbs 3:5 – Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart

What does it mean to “trust in the Lord with all your heart?” These seven little words may take a life time to accomplish. Why? Because they require moment-by-moment, day-by-day, surrender — all encompassing surrender.

The problem started for us all in the Garden of Eden a long time ago. Self-reliance began the unceasing battle against surrender. Since that time, every individual has witnessed this relentless war. Even the youngest of us asserts, “I can do it myself.” 

Positive determination has produced amazing results. It has led mankind to explore, invent, engineer, create and break preconceived limitations. Through this compulsion we have

stood on mountains,
walked in space,
explored ocean depths,
developed cures,
conquered fears,
and challenged the impossible.

But such exploits have also created an over confidence in our own ability, ingenuity or intelligence. So how do we turn about face and kneel before the Lord God, Creator and Sustainer of all?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on
your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5

Jenna Loveridge Photography

Trust

As a mother, I find it uncomfortable to watch a young child being thrust into the air by its father. The child may scream in fear, while simultaneously delighting in the game of dangerous reliance of its father. The father trusts in his own strength to catch the child. However, the child trusts in the father’s loving character to not allow it to fall.

Sometimes, I honestly feel like that little child tossed skyward by my Heavenly Father — gasping for air and screaming. Not always in delight! Usually, I’m not wanting more!

Trust conveys a sense of security or calm assurance.

“May the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace
as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow
with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

Such explicit trust, of necessity, requires that we know the One we are trusting in. Do I trust Him as the God of all hope? Do I know Him to be trustworthy? Or do I question His character and His love for me?

How I perceive God’s character will ultimately determine my level of trust in Him.

The LORD

The name for God used here is “Yahweh” — “I AM.”

“God said to Moses,
I AM WHO I AM.’…”
Exodus 3:14

Perhaps it takes so long to trust God, because it takes time to understand who He is. Self reliance declares, “Trust only yourself.” However, history has shown how faulty that reasoning is!

By reading the bible, we begin to develop insight into God’s nature. Experience also teaches us that He is completely trustworthy. His character is constant and good — indescribably good.

God
eternal, self-existent,
omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient,
Alpha and Omega, without beginning or end,
independent and unchanging,
absolute truth, beauty and goodness.

Jenna Loveridge Photography

The more we come to accurately know God for who He truly is, the more we sense the security and calm assurance that comes with trusting Him.

“Those who know your name
trust in you, for you, LORD,
have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 9:10

Can we trust God when our prayer seems to go unanswered? Can we trust Him when He appears distant even though we needed His Presence? How can we trust Him when His ways are so much different than ours?

These are honest questions. The only honest answer is, “Yes!” Yes, because His love never fails. Yes, because He is immeasurable good. Yahweh is redemptive in all He does. He remains trustworthy.

With All

If seven words present a problem, seven letters create an even bigger one — “with all.”  Perhaps, we can trust God “with a little”. We might even trust Him “with some.” But “with all?”  Now that’s different. And difficult!

Dare I trust Him with

my family and relationships,
finances and possession,
dreams and desires,
restoring my past or securing my future,
providing not just what is good,
but the absolute best?

It has been over 40 years since in hopelessness I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. With faltering prayer, I simply said, “Lord, I have nothing worth giving you. But if you want me, I am Yours. Take the broken pieces. I give them all to You.” With that, I gave Jesus “all.”

Amazingly enough He took me up on the offer. He still holds me to it!

Through the years, God has been persuading me about the inclusively of “all.” Some things I have clung too resistantly. Other things, I have gladly tossed His way. “With all” really does mean everything. God cannot be Lord, if He is only lord of some. Lordship encompasses “all.”

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfact,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD himself,
is the Rock eternal.”
Isaiah 26:3-4

Yet with such yielding comes peace — “perfect peace.”

Heart

The heart signifies the centre — the core of all feelings, will, and intellect. The heart makes me, me and you, you. It determines our values, how we perceive the world around us and  how we respond to others. The heart is the central part that makes every aspect of our lives “tick.”

The human heart is made up of many chambers. So is our heart of hearts. Trusting Him must flow through “all” the centre of our being.

“I will say of the LORD,
“He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalms 91:2

Do we foolishly think we can trust our feelings above His goodness? Are we in any way resistant to surrendering our will? In what ways do we believe we know better than God? Writing these question makes them sound unreasonable. Perhaps because they are.

Yet, in my littleness, I cling to them with childlike determination. God pulls at my small hand with persistence, wanting my little, so He can grant me His big more.

Trusting in oneself “with all your heart” proves futile. On the other hand, “trust(ing) the Lord with all your heart” brings his security and calm assurance.

Blessings

Many promises await fulfillment as we trust the Lord — in everything and with everything.

“But blessed is the one
who
trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree
planted by the w
ater
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Trust and blessing co-exist — inseparably bound together. As fragile as our trust might seem, it powerfully links us to innumerable benefits. The security and calm confidence derived from trusting in the Lord replaces fear and worry. Trusting God demolishes the vulnerability of uncertainty.

So today, I trust again, afresh and more fully. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, I choose totrust in the Lord with all (my) heart.”

God faithfully invites me closer, while creating new opportunities to trust. He also rewards my efforts to trust with confidence.

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Hebrews 11:1 “Now Faith Is”

Faith Substance Evidence

This verse has brewed in my heart for weeks. I learned years ago while memorizing scripture that it is often the little words in a sentence that carry immense weight. Think about it – “now faith is“!

When we think about faith we often focus on something hoped for the future. Faith is having “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. That something for a Christian is “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of the bible, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.”

Faith requires a “spiritual apprehension” – to have a clear grasp of understanding of the truth.”

Hebrews is a book written to the Jews. Although they had the writings of the prophets and poetic scrolls, their spiritual understanding rested on the writings of Moses. This was their foundation of all truth.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1

The Pentateuch

In these first five books of the bible we learn

much about the character of God,
His power and goodness,
the promises of God,
The Law,
His faithful pursuit of mankind,
the triune nature of eternal God,
and much, much, much more…..

Pentateuch

At the end of these books we read:

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
who rides across the heavens to help you
and on the clouds in his majesty.
The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you…
He is your shield and helper
and your glorious sword…”
Deuteronomy 34:26-29

Now

God can be taken at His Word! When a Jew would read “now faith is”, he knew beyond any doubt faith rests not our circumstances or personal ability, but fully on the foundation of The Word of God.

“Now faith is… substance.”  “Now faith is… evidence.” Now! In fact, this very moment!

The substance of what we hope for in prayer is now!

The evidence of what we don’t yet see is now!

Mary also apprehended the truth when she declared,

“For no word from God will ever fail.”
Luke 1:37

Faith Now

The angel’s words made no sense. A virgin giving birth? The Holy Spirit overshadowing? The natural mind could not comprehend, but faith said “the evidence is now… the substance though unseen is!”

The literal translation for Luke 1:37 is “with God’s word is the power to fulfill it.” As God speaks it is done!

Faith

There are many things that I once needed faith to believe. I would struggle to apply some foundational truth to my life, usually because facts were confronting my path. There is a vast different between truth and fact.

Fact was the walls of Jericho were impenetrable;
truth is they fell with a shout!
Fact was the Red Sea was formidable;
truth is the wind of God lead the way!
Fact was the enemies are strong;
truth is God is Mighty!

God says everything done without faith is sin! Rather than a condemnation, it is an invitation to walk by faith.

This constant invitation to partner with Him and His Word is like a gate swung purposely open in our direction. Faith is activated upon truth.

Is

Often my hand trembles as I place it into God’s great hand. It takes faith not just to place it there, but also to keep it there. My faith rests complete, because He is………

“…I AM WHO I AM…”
Exodus 3:14

Whatever I need in faith today, He is! He never changes; His word is unfailing.

__________

(For more on faith check here.)

Grace to Believe

Lord grant me the grace to walk in faith
daily – moment by moment
breath by breath
knowing
now
faith
is.