Do you struggle to pray? The most simplistic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Every relationship is built through communication. Without communication, relationships weaken and fade. In Matthew 6:5, Jesus starts a sentence with, “When you pray…” This indicates that prayer is an expected part of a believer’s walk with God. He doesn’t say, “If you pray…” Prayer is a given for each believer.
If it is difficult for you to talk to God each day, here are five reasons that may be happening, and solutions for overcoming your lack of communication with God.
1. You’re mad at God for not answering previous prayers.
Maybe you’ve been praying and praying, asking, pleading, and the thing you wanted so badly never happened, so that has caused you to hold offense at God.
How do I solve it? In Psalm 10:1, the psalmist cries out to God saying, “Hey, why are you standing far off? Why are you hiding in times of trouble?” (my paraphrase).
Not all prayers have to be pretty. If you’re holding back from praying to God because you have an offense that he hasn’t done what you wanted him to when you wanted him to, get vulnerable with Him. Ask the questions that have been on your heart:
God, why does it feel like you’re so far away?
Why does it feel like you’re ignoring me?
If you will ask him questions through the Holy Spirit, He will answer!
2. You’re distracted by demonic activity.
I have to continually remind Christians, they are not alone in this world. There are angelic beings and demonic beings in the atmospheres of our lives, in our homes, and our workplaces. They’re present, but are you aware of them?
James 4:7 says, “Submit yourself to God, then resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” This verse indicates that demonic distraction is real and it happens to every Christian. It’s so common that James 4:7 was directed toward all of us.
If you want proof that you’re distracted by demonic activity, here it is: you can scroll through your phone all night long, and you don’t feel tired at all. But when you begin to read your Bible or pray, you immediately want to go to sleep. There may be a demonic activity connected to your inability to pray.
I’ve heard it said that demons will give people supernatural abilities to do sinful things. In Mark chapter five, a demonized man can break chains. So sometimes demons enable supernatural abilities.
3. Original sin.
Adam was placed in the garden of Eden, which was a perfect environment. But he fell because he had a human will. As a result, he and Eve sinned. All of us have a physical body and we must learn to crucify the flesh. Your flesh is not going to want to pray. Your flesh is going to want to do the things that it desires. It wants to procreate and have sexual activity. It wants to eat. It wants to feed addictions to nicotine and alcohol. It wants to escape through drug experiences. It craves dopamine and serotonin.
We are all going to struggle in our bodies until we die and our spirit is released from our physical body. So it’s not realistic to expect that your body is ever going to want to pray. You are gonna have to crucify the flesh and beat it into submission. One of my favorite phrases is “Suffer well.” It’s going to hurt. Jesus hurt when the crown of thorns was pressed into his head. But on the other side of that suffering was freedom and peace for your mind. And so sometimes you’re going to have to suffer through subjecting that flesh to the will of God. But on the other side of that suffering is great freedom.
4. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Christians don’t pray because they don’t plan to pray. We have planners to schedule our entire day. We think about the commute to work, when we’ll shower when we’ll shave when we’ll buy clothes, and when we will pay bills. But we never plan to pray. So failing to plan is planning to fail. You must plan your prayer (check out my blog about morning prayer for information on the benefits of rising early to pray).
5. You don’t know how to pray.
Many Christians don’t pray because they don’t know how to pray. If this describes you, here’s a simple acronym that is a template for prayer. This is called the ACTS method. So use the ACTS method.
A – Adoration
Adoration is worship. It’s when you come before the Lord and focus on Him and His attributes. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” We welcome God into our prayer time through worship and adoration. When you begin to worship and praise God at the beginning of your prayer, you will see the atmosphere instantly change as the Spirit of God is welcomed. Some ideas of things you can say are:
- Lord, your beauty is unmatched.
- God, the focus is on you today.
- Lord, you’re so amazing.
- You’re so lovely.
C – Confession
Confession means coming out of hiding. When Adam sinned, he hid. God knew where he was, but Adam hid anyway. Don’t hide from God when you sin. Make confession a part of your prayer every day. This builds a relationship with God instead of hiding from Him.
Here’s an example of what that might sound like in prayer:
God, I fell back into this sin, and I don’t know why I’m doing it. I don’t know why I drank the way I just drank. God, I don’t know why I went back to lust. I’m confessing my sin, but I’m asking not just that you forgive me, but that you would heal me from the root.
T – Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is an act of faith. We not only thank God for what he has done and then thank him for what is He about to do. That might sound like this:
God, I thank you for today. Thank you for waking me up. Thank you for giving me a job even if I don’t always like it. Thank you, God, for my family, even if they get on my nerves. Thank you, God, for my healing that’s on the way.
Thanksgiving is not only thanking Him for the past and present but thanking Him for the future.
Supplication is a powerful concept. It means going back repeatedly in earnestness. That might sound like this:
God, I’m not letting go of you. I believe you will do the thing that you said you would do. I’m reminding you of your promises. I have this chronic illness but it’s not my identity. I haven’t seen the healing yet, but it’s coming.
Hannah was a person in the Bible who prayed with supplication. She was barren. She went to the temple and was so adamant and earnest about her prayers that Eli, who was over the temple, thought she was drunk. Her prayers sounded like this:
God, I can’t have a child. I have not been able to conceive. Something in me is broken. I need supernatural healing. And I’m going to go before you over and over and over and over again until you give me what You promised. You promised that you were a healer, and I’m holding you to it. I’m about to end this prayer but I’ll be back again tomorrow, and the day after, because I’m not giving up. I still believe that you can show me breakthroughs, healing, and restoration.
Guess what? She conceived and had Samuel who eventually became one of the greatest prophets of the nation of Israel. Her supplication was heard by the Father.
If you you’re mad at God for not answering previous prayers, if you struggle to discipline your flesh to pray, if you face demonic activity, if you fail to plan to pray, or if you don’t know how to pray, use the resources in this blog to help course-correct so that you can add regular prayer into your day. As you begin to cultivate your daily communication with God, you’ll see your spiritual life grow and the depth of your love for God increase exponentially.