In light of the necessity of prayer, why don’t we pray for ourselves or others as we ought? The answers won’t be surprising—we lack faith or we lack dependence or both. We don’t believe prayer works because we can’t see immediate results or we don’t believe God hears us or we don’t believe God has the power to pull off his promises or we only pray man-centered prayers regarding our temporal comfort and prosperity. Another factor in prayerlessness is falsely thinking that prayer isn’t needed to please God on a daily basis. Sure, we pray when there’s a big decision to make and we hope God sends some sort of tangible sign so that we don’t have to walk by faith, but we don’t think we need to pray unceasingly because we don’t think we continually need God. Like the disciples, we don’t consider ourselves that needy or that prone to sin. When we compare ourselves with the world or even other professing Christians, we conclude that we are doing pretty well. And it’s certainly true—we don’t need supernatural power to be better than unbelievers, but we do need power from God’s spirit to be like Christ! He is our only standard—we are to look exclusively to the author and perfecter of our faith.

Other times we throw out the excuse that we are just too busy to pray. I can’t imagine a more desperate circumstance where prayer is needed since it obvious one’s life is horribly prioritized. Do we really think the Lord would put us in situations in which we legitimately don’t have time to pray? Of course not, but when we chase our own desires and refuse to make the necessary sacrifices to remain dependent upon the Lord, prayer gets eliminated. When J.C. Ryle would hear people say they were too busy to pray, he would respond with, “Are you too busy to breathe?” “No, I have to breathe to remain alive.” “Exactly!, He would say, Just like you have to pray to maintain spiritual vitality.” To say we are too busy for prayer is to declare, “I don’t need God and prayer isn’t necessary for someone as spiritually capable as me.” That’s interesting because it was necessary for Jesus; it was necessary for Daniel and Paul and every other saint in the Bible, but not for the busy, 21st century Christian.