Do you look at prayer as an obligation or as a necessity?

For some, prayer has become nothing more than a routine ritual they go through out of a sense of obligation. Jesus saw prayer as a necessity, not an obligation. No matter how busy He was, He always took time to pray. He knew the importance of spending time alone with the Father in prayer.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God… Prayer is the ultimate test of a man’s true spiritual condition. There is nothing that tells the truth about Christians as much as our prayer life.”

To be honest, many of us struggle with prayer from time to time. Busyness of life crowds out time alone with God to pray. We develop a wrong perspective of prayer, thinking of it as a time to bring our grocery list to Him and expecting Him to give us everything we ask.

E.M. Bounds in his book, Purpose in Prayer, reminds us of how we must cultivate our fellowship with the Lord: “Prayer is not a meaningless function or duty to be crowded into the busy or the weary ends of the day, and we are not obeying our Lord’s command when we content ourselves with a few minutes upon our knees in the morning rush or late at night when the faculties, tired with the tasks of the day, call out for rest… we can never get to know Him if we use the vehicle of prayer as we use the telephone, for a few words of hurried conversation.”

Ouch. Those words sting a little! So what hinders us from prayer?

  • Lack of discipline – We’re too busy, and prayer gets crowded out by the urgent.
  • Lack of belief – We don’t believe God will do anything, so we just don’t bother to ask.
  • Lack of intimacy – We may not feel close to God and He seems distant. As a result, we don’t want to talk to Him.
  • Lack of need – We tend to pray less when life is going great and we don’t sense any great need. But, when circumstances overwhelm us, we are drawn to our knees in prayer. Sometimes we falsely assume that prayer is only necessary when something comes along that’s too big for us to handle by ourselves.

What does your prayer life reveal about your relationship with God?