Study 2 THE SIN OF PRAYERLESSNESS
PRAYING ALWAYS WITH ALL PRAYER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Daniel 6:1-11)
The key-verse of this study is 1 Samuel 12:23. Did you know that prayerlessness is a sin? We say that it is unfortunate that we do not pray more; we admit our prayer life is weak and ineffective; but in actual fact we sin when we do not pray. Ask yourself, How much do I pray? or How little do I pray?
1. WHY IS IT A SIN NOT TO PRAY?
- 1. It is a sin not to pray because the Bible expressly calls it a sin. 1 Samuel 12:23 tells us this, and not to pray is to commit sin because the Bible, which is inspired, says it is.
- 2. It is a sin not to pray because it is right to pray. Read Luke 18:1 and then compare 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18. If it is right and necessary to pray, it is wrong not to (James 4:17). There are two kinds of sin, sins of commission and sins of omission.
- 3. It is a sin not to pray because when a Christian does not pray it is a reproach to God (Romans 14:23). It is pure unbelief not to pray (Hebrews 11:6). What a reproach it is to a father when a child does not trust him! Unbelief is a besetting sin which we are to lay aside and we must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
- 4. It is a sin not to pray because of all the encouragements that are given to us to pray. The Bible urges us to pray. God gives us promises, examples of men and women who have prayed and who have received answers to their prayers, and in addition to this we have a great Partner in prayer (Romans 8:26). Then, we have our own personal experiences of prayer to encourage us and still further we have the testimonies of others. If we do not pray we are left without excuse!
- 5. It is a sin not to pray because of all that prayer can accomplish. Go through your Bible and make a list of things recorded there that happened in answer to prayer. Because prayer can accomplish so much it is a sin not to pray, for by not praying we are damming up the channels through which mighty blessings could and should be flowing. When we do not pray we deprive the world, the Church and our own lives of blessing.
- 6. It is a sin not to pray because prayerlessness leaves the door open for all other sins (Matthew 6:13; 26:41; Luke 22:40). It was John Bunyan who said, ‘Prayer will make a man cease from sin, as sin will entice a man to cease from prayer’. Someone else has said, ‘For the Christian, prayerlessness is identical with backsliding.’ What are the sins that are defeating us? Would it be true to say that the main reason for our failure to get victory over these sins is our lack of prayer?
- 7. It is a sin not to pray because the root cause of all our deficiency and lack of spirituality is just this. Why are we so weak, anaemic and ineffective in our Christian living and service? Why is the Church powerless? Why is there so much effort with so few results? Is it not that God’s people are neglecting the great privilege and responsibility of prayer?
2. AGAINST WHOM DO WE SIN WHEN WE DO NOT PRAY?
- 1. When we do not pray we sin against God. Notice in 1 Samuel 12:23 – “…against the Lord.” Of course all sin is against the Lord; we cannot sin and not sin against God – see Psalm 51:4 and Luke 15:21. Prayerlessness is a sin against God because it hinders His purposes and prevents Him from accomplishing His mighty works. Some things can only happen by prayer, and when we do not pray these things do not happen!
- 2. When we do not pray we sin against others. Notice in 1 Samuel 12:23 “…for you.” We live in a world which is filled with men and women who are spiritually and morally broken and bleeding. By prayer we can secure the healing touch of the Great Physician for the suffering ones around us. Not to pray for them is to deprive them of His healing, and therefore by not praying for our fellow-men we sin against them. Just pause and think of all that would happen in your church if you, and others with you, would really take prayer more seriously!
- 3. When we do not pray we sin against ourselves. Prayer changes the pray-er! The first big result of prayer is the reflex result, the blessing that comes into the heart and life of the one who prays.
It would seem that two things are called for:
- 1. An honest confession: a frank confession to the Lord Himself that we have failed Him in our prayer life and in supporting the prayer activities of our church.
- 2. A personal decision: like Samuel, we must be willing to say, “As for me…”
Let us humbly confess that we have been lazy, preoccupied, careless and prayerless, and let us vow in the presence of God that by His grace we will become men and women of prayer. Here are some suggestions that may help to overcome prayerlessness:-
- 1. Have daily, regular times of prayer.
- 2. Begin each session of prayer by reading a short portion from the Bible.
- 3. Pray through the problems of the day as they arise.
- 4. Do not be formal in the matter of prayer. Cultivate the habit of talking with God.
- 5. Study all that the Bible has to say on the subject of prayer. Get into the very atmosphere of the prayers of Abraham, of Samuel, of Nehemiah, of Daniel, and of the early Church.
- 6. Start a prayer list and tabulate for your own guidance some of the people for whom you are going to pray regularly.
- 7. Keep on keeping on!