The Sin of Prayerlessness

I remember as a young man reading the classic by E.M. Bounds, The Power of Prayer. The author told story after story of great men and women of prayer who would often spend hours and hours in prayer each day. I was excited about the prayer lives of these amazing prayer warriors, yet something that so intrigued me, also disturbed me. These great prayers, after spending hours praying, would often cry over their prayerlessness and lack of devotion to prayer. I remember thinking, “If these people are guilty of prayerlessness, then who would not be guilty of such a sin?”

But is prayerlessness sin?

Most of us feel as though we do not pray enough. Whether we are praying for five minutes a day or an hour, it is not unusual to feel terribly inadequate in this vital part of our Christian life. But is prayerlessness sin? Though it is not listed specifically as such in Scripture, James, the brother of Jesus, said, “Anyone , then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17).

An argument may be made then that prayerlessness, as a lack of action, could indeed be considered a sin of omission.

Without a doubt we are commanded to pray. Jesus told His disciples to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-8). Paul commanded us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Peter wrote that we are to be self-controlled so that we can pray (1 Peter 4:7). James commanded us to pray for each other (James 5:16). If failing to do something we are commanded to do is sin, then prayerlessness is surely a major sin for believers.

There are some very specific ways to help us move away from this sin and into greater praying. Perhaps the most foundational issue here is that prayerlessness is a declaration that we do not need God. Ronnie Floyd, in his great book, How to Pray, said there are two critical statements about prayer that we must understand: “Prayer occurs when you depend on God” and “Prayerlessness occurs when you depend on yourself.”

Failing to pray is also an indicator of a lack of love for the Lord. Prayer, at its heart, is communicating with God. What does it say to Him when we fail to find time to talk with Him? Do we say by our lack of prayer that we are not at all interested in spending time with the Lord or hearing anything from Him? When we do not pray, we move away from any possibility of intimacy with Christ.

When prayerlessness is prevalent in our lives, we are also guilty of failure to love one another. There is scarcely any greater way to demonstrate love than to pray for someone. In godly intercession, we lift the needs of another to God and watch as He moves to meet needs and provide for the one we are praying for. Through prayer, bodies are healed, families are knit together, individuals are saved, and churches are revived. When we withhold prayer on behalf of others, we demonstrate hardened hearts and a failure to love them enough to bring their needs before a loving Father.

Failing to pray is an indicator of our lack of concern for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Throughout Scripture and church history, spiritual breakthroughs occurred when the Lord’s people got serious about prayer. From the days of Moses standing on a hill interceding for Israel as they fought in the valley below, to the focused intercession in Romania that brought down the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and opened the door for the free proclamation of the Gospel, prayer has been the weapon that God has placed in the hands of His people to advance His purposes.

When we refuse to pray, and that is what prayerlessness is, we turn our backs on what God desires to do on planet earth in our day.

 

You are blessed!

 

Dave Butts

Harvest Prayer Ministries

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