7 Things Christians Tell God When They Avoid Daily Prayer

The Power of Daily Prayer

Prayer is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to spend time with God praising Him, thanking Him for all that He has done, and bringing our anxieties, needs, and concerns before His throne. Prayer is not a burden to God; He seeks worshipers, John 4:23. Jesus urges us to pray and taught His disciples how to pray, Matthew 6:5-13. Paul promised peace to the believer who cast all anxiety into the care of God in Philippians 4:6-7:

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Through the scriptures and history, great men and women of faith devoted themselves to prayer and trusted its power.  It’s no wonder Paul urges Christians to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.Pray

Obstacles to Daily Prayer

It is perplexing that some Christians confess to not praying daily or forgetting to pray when its blessings are obvious. Some obstacles I have observed:

  1. Start the day focused on tasks and problems instead of praying before facing the demands of life
  2. Little trust that God will answer our prayers because they doubt that prayer is effective despite what the Bible teaches
  3. Can’t figure out how God will answer their prayers or are disappointed when God doesn’t answer the way they want or expect

We must remember that God will hear His children and He answers prayers through wisdom giving us what we need. Sometimes what we want is opposite of what is best for us. Sometimes we are asking for things opposed to His will, as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12,  prayed repeatedly for one outcome but rejoiced the outcome God chose for him as it made him stronger spiritually. God is not a genie to grant our every wish; He is our Father who wants what is best for us and acts out of love for our greater good even when we can’t see or appreciate it at the moment.

6 Things Christians Tell God When They Avoid Daily Prayer

Understanding the blessing and power of daily prayer, when Christians fail to act on that belief they are telling God several things:

  1.  You are not important to me or a priority in my life
  2. I do not have time for you
  3. I do not want to spend time with you
  4. I can handle things without you
  5. I do not believe that you can impact the things I am facing in my life
  6. I have nothing of which to thank or praise you
  7. I can take advantage of our relationship and use you only when I am in trouble or need

How Can A Good God Permit Suffering?

Series on Understanding Suffering: First Article
Second Article: Man Creates Much of His Suffering
Third Article: Working With God to Relieve Suffering

Earthquakes and tsunamis devastate Japan. An earthquake in Haiti brings widespread death and suffering. Hurricane Katrina and other disasters disrupt people’s lives and destroy communities. Diseases such as cancer and viruses cause suffering and death. Some people see or experience these events and cry out “Where is God?”

NASA Photo

Suffering is a part of every generation. According to Job “man who is born of woman is of a few days and full of troubles,” Job 14:1. To the atheist, suffering is just a characteristic of the world. For the Christian suffering is more complex because the suffering of the world appears to be at odds with the characteristics of God.

The Bible teaches us that God is all good and all powerful. This introduces an ancient dilemma: If God is good and is all powerful He would not let these things happen; therefore, His is either not good or not all powerful. Some theologians have suggested that God is neither infinitely powerful nor infinitely good, but only in the process of acquring these attributes. This would be insufficient for if God is neither good nor omnipotent, He is unworthy of our worship.

Judging God’s Goodness

The first problem we encounter when we try to evaluate the goodness of God is our own limited standards.

As sinners, we are poor judges of a good God, Romans 3:10-18

Many conflicts arise between parents and children when the children want to do something that the parents, through wisdom and experience, forbid. Older children realize the wisdom of their parent’s decision and thank them for not allowing them to do something that they, at the time, thought was a “good” thing to do. The degree of wisdom that separates parent and child is much less than the degree of wisdom that separates us from God.

Finite beings are poor judges of an infinite God, John 40:2, 8

God can see the chain-reactions of all actions and can bring about ultimate good from any situations. God was able to convert the apparent defeat in the life of Jesus on the cross to a victory for all men. Many people credit their greatest moments of growth and strength to the greatest trials in their lives. Paul conforts believers, in Romans 8:28, that “All things work together for good to those who love God.”

We only see the limited view of a life that is like a vapor. God is eternal and can see how all things fit together and how events interconnect with other events. We get wrapped up in the events of our lives and often do not realize the far reaching implications of our actions today on future events. But God knows.

Questioning is sometimes a matter of degree

At what point of suffering do we feel justified in questioning God’s goodness or feel that God should intervene to prevent suffering? What number of lives lost in an incident allows us to question God’s goodness? 2,000,000? 200,000? 20,000? 2,000? 200? 20? 2? What about loss of property?

At what point to we go beyond feeling sad about a tragedy and move to questioning God’s power or goodness? There are many problems and trials that occur in people’s lives. We were not created to live pain-free lives. We were not created to live forever in the flesh. We live in a natural world with consequences for all of our actions. If we fall from a large height or are involved in a high speed accident, there is a good chance that our physical body will not survive and, if it does, it will suffer great pain. Pain, suffering, and death is a part of life. To complain that the suffering and pain of life is unfair is immature. It is unpleasant, and perhaps we feel we do not deserve the pain, trials,  and suffering, but they are part of life.

We must realize that one cannot draw a line that separates “acceptable” suffering and “unacceptable” suffering. If the death of 200 people in a tragedy leads us to question God, why would we mourn the loss of 150 without questioning God? Why would the death of even one not cause us to question God? It’s only a matter of degree between what we accept as a part of life and what leads us to question God. This is an arbitrary judgment.

Selfish Judgment

Often we judge God’s goodness based on our hapiness or ease–never a standard for good with God. The greater good for man is not ease for his spiritual life often languishes when he does not endure trials. The muscle grows when it is torn and stretched. Iron is made hard through fire and hammering. Gold is purified through fire. We develop character and perseverance through trials and suffering, Romans 5:1-5.

As we will examine later, instead of blaming God for suffering perhaps we should see the opportunities to grow in our faith and in our trust in God.

When God Delays

When we pray to God, sometimes we expect God to answer us immediately. We are used to instant results from texting, overnight shipping, fast food, etc. Sometimes we may feel that God is not listening or doesn’t care when we cry out to Him. However, as we mature in our faith we discover lessons that can only be learned by God’s delay in answering our prayers.

Despite the empty promises of some health-and-wealth preachers, believers are never promised a life free of suffering. In fact, suffering believers are main characters in the Bible story. The story of Job and the words of Jesus in John 9:1-2 and Luke 13:1-5 clearly separate suffering and disaster from one’s righteousness or lack of it. We may suffer consequences of sinful actions but we can also suffer from time and chance. If obedience to Christ guaranteed a prosperous and pain-free life, few would reject the gospel’s call. Sometimes we must suffer as Christians.

Believers sometimes feel that God is not helping them during trials. We can feel abandoned and cry out “Why have you forsaken me?” Perhaps we might wonder if we have cleansed our hands in vain (Psalm 73). In agony or frustration we might cry out to God, “Where are you?!?” Consider these heartfelt cries from the Psalms:

  • Psalm 43:1-2 – “Why have you cast me off?”
  • Psalm 44:23 – “Why do you sleep, O’ Lord?”
  • Psalm 88:13-14 – “Why do you cast off my soul?”

Our cries are more bitter when we hear the scoffer and enemy say, “Where is your God?” Depression can lead to doubt. Frustration with God can lead to anger. How can God’s delay in answering our cry benefit us?

Delay Challenges Us To Use Our Faith

Jim happened to meet the minister on the street one day, and during the conversation told him of all the troubles he had had during the past year. He wound up with: “I tell you right now, preacher, it’s enough to make a man lose his religion.”  “Seems to me, Jim,” the minister told him quietly, “it’s enough to make a man use his religion.” Tan, P. L. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations.

Jesus told a parable to teach believers not to give up. The Persistent Widow and the Judge (Luke 18:1-8) teaches that God is a just and loving Father but sometes He “bears with us” before answering. It takes faith to continue to pray and hope when it appears that any reason to hope is gone. Jesus asked a soul searching question at the end of the parable: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Will He find people who still trust Him even when it appears that He is not responding to their prayers? He told a parable to teach believers not to give up and wonders if anyone will not give up!

Delay Teaches Total Dependence On God

Some consider themselves dependent on God but when things turn against them, they feel God has forsaken them and they reject Him. Dependence on God must not depend on external factors: possessions, health, employment status. It is easy to feel dependent on God when your enemies are lying at your feet, the battles are won, and the treasures gained. The challenge is to be faithful when you remain faithful in the face of defeat. Revelation 20:8-9 portrays a small city of saints surrounded by a army reaching to the horizon all around. Only when the enemy closed in and was ready to smash the small company of believers did God unleash His fury and destroy the opposition. Though He could have destroyed them before they came near the city, He challenged the faith of the believers to maintain their hope and dedication in the face of what appeared to be certain defeat. How many will lose faith and give up before the victory? Who will still rely on God when it appears that God is unreliable?

We often rely too much on our own power. We must understand that control is an illusion and that most things are out of our control. God’s delay reinforces this and encourages us to rely on God’s power (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

Delay Teaches The Believer Hope

According to Romans 5:3-4, it is tribulation that yields hope, not ease. Perseverance is not succeeding but trying and failing, without giving up. Character is not a sterling reputation but the excellence that comes from enduring trial when it would be easy to give up or, through deception, trying to escape a trial that one must face. When we have forged strong character through patient endurance, we emerge with a hope for better days and eternal rest from all trials.

What Christians sometimes fail to realize is that suffering on earth sweetens the taste of heaven! The more we must endure suffering, the less hold the world can have on us. Why should we desire rest for our labor when the work is not hard? Why would we hope for a home in heaven if our home on earth is comfortable enough? Can the promise of “no more sorrows or tears” in heaven mean anything if our hearts are not broken and we suffer no loss on earth? Suffering allows us to see earthly things in their fragility and the greater value of eternal things.

When you must face trials that seem unending and unrelenting, let it draw you closer to God and teach you lessons you could learn no other way.

God’s Comfort

A favorite song of mine has the verse, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand.” There many things that seem frightening in this world: war, this sickness called Swine Flu that is going around, maybe your parents or others are worried more about money and paying the bills. There are many things that a person can worry about but we don’t need to be so sad. You see, God is still in control of everything. Sometimes we have to go through tough times in order to be stronger. Sometimes we need to go without things to realize how much God has blessed us. Sometimes bad things happen because of poor choices that others have made and we suffer some also.

Jesus tells us, in Matthew 6, not to be anxious for our food, clothes, or place to live because God will take care of us. It may not be the richest but God will care for us. Daniel teaches us that God rules in the kingdoms of men and that the things that are happening are fulfilling His purpose. Paul teaches us that all things work together for good for those who love Him. Pray to God and tell him about your worries and ask for His help and to help you to understand His will. Then take comfort that God is taking care of you and will make things work together for good. If we are blessed with tomorrow, God will be still be there and still be in control. Hold His hand and you will not need to worry about what tomorrow will bring.