Sometimes prayer feels like a foreign language. We struggle to do it because it feels, well, “foreign.” But let’s look at a few practical, day-to-day reasons about why we might struggle with prayer.

You might recognize a few of these…

We don’t understand how it works
We might think, “If God is completely sovereign, why does He need me to pray?”

Imagine if during the peak of Michael Jordan’s basketball career, his coach sat him on the bench and the team lost every game. After the season, a reporter asks the coach, “Why did you leave the greatest player of all time on the bench?” And the coach answers, “Well, we don’t understand how Michael seems to defy gravity. His competitive edge is beyond our comprehension, but when we fully understand, we’ll put him in the game.”

Ridiculous, right? So, isn’t it equally ridiculous to leave prayer on the bench when it’s our most powerful weapon?

We’re self-sufficient
We might think we don’t need prayer.

Very few of us would actually say we don’t need God, yet we’ll go an entire day without praying. We have essentially relied on our self-sufficiency and said, “I don’t need God today.”

There’s a book by Andrew Murray titled, The Believer’s Prayer Life where he labeled being self-sufficient as sin. When I first read that, I was uncomfortable with it. So, I prayed, “Lord, is it true that going a whole day without praying is a sinful day?”

God took me to a passage in I Samuel, 12:19. It tells a story in which the Israelites feared God’s wrath because they had been demanding that He give them a king and He was not pleased. So, they asked Samuel to pray that God would spare their lives. Samuel’s response is important. “… far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. I will teach you the way that is good and right” (1 Samuel, 12:23). Samuel understood that failing to pray was sin!

We don’t draw on His power
We might be trying to pray in our own strength.

Prayer becomes frustrating when we try to muster up the time to pray, the desire to pray, and the discipline to pray. Just like everything else we try to do in our flesh, we fall flat on our face. Like absolutely every other aspect of the Christian Life, we’ve got to do prayer in His power.

Jude 1:20 says, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Pray in the Holy Spirit! That means you come before God in complete honesty and say, “God, if I am absolutely honest with You, I don’t want to pray. I don’t even have a desire to pray. I don’t have the discipline to pray. I need You to give it to me. From this day forward I want to pray in the Holy Spirit.”

Why we should pray
The main reason and, in truth, the only reason we should need for us to pray, is that God wants us to pray. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). But, God gives us many more reasons in Scripture:

  • Prayer releases God’s resources. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7). Are you wondering why God’s spiritual resources aren’t being poured into your life? Could it be because your prayer life isn’t where it needs to be?
  • Prayer gives God pleasure. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” God loves to hear your voice. What a thought!
  • Prayer brings peace to chaos. Many Christians have memorized and called on Philippians 4: 6-7 in difficult times because of God’s promise of peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace is available. God wants you to have it. How do you get it? Through prayer and petition with a thankful heart.
  • Prayer allows you to accomplish what He wants you to accomplish. A passage of Scripture that has meant a lot to me over the years is John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” What can you do apart from God? Nada, nothing, zippo. Can you do a little bit without him? Can you do anything of eternal significance without Him? No!
  • Prayer keeps you accountable to God. In Psalm 139:23-24, the author prays earnestly, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” God’s a great accountability partner because He sees absolutely everything you do! You need to go before Him occasionally and ask him to show you the stuff in your life that you’re not even aware of.

Just like learning a foreign language, prayer takes time and commitment. But, mostly it requires you to surrender yourself to God and ask for His power and for His will to be done.

I encourage you to spend some time having daily, honest, and intimate conversations with Him—He’s waiting for you.

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