Why We Don’t Pray Enough

Prayer is one of those things that every Christian knows is essential, yet almost every Christian would admit that they don’t prioritize it like they should. I’ve hardly met a believer who thinks that they pray enough. We know it is important, yet prayer inevitably tends to take a back seat to other (usually less urgent) demands. Such is life, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it too much. But at the same time, it’s good to try and cultivate a healthy, vibrant prayer life.

I sometimes wonder, What makes our prayer lives so pathetic? Why does it always feel like faithfulness in prayer is lacking? What are the things that impede our vitality in this area?

A number of things could be suggested: We are too busy. We are lazy. We lack faith. We are undisciplined. We feel inadequate at it. We struggle with self-reliance. We have doubts. Likely these all are true to varying degrees. Yet I want to suggest another reason that you might not have considered.

You and I don’t pray enough because we don’t grasp who Jesus is.

This is Jesus’ point to the Samaritan woman he meets at the community well in John 4. It says in verse 10…

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

The Samaritan woman first didn’t understand “the gift of God”, which is the “living water” that Jesus offers. This living water is eternal life. We know that to be true from verses 13-14…

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, [14] but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I think is fair to say that most believers, perhaps all of them, understand that salvation means (in part) eternal life. That’s what it means to be a Christian. But what we sometimes miss, and even more often forget, is who this Saviour is, the one in whom we have placed our trust.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman “If you knew…who it is that is saying [this to you]…you would have asked him.” In other words, a primary reason she didn’t ask him for the living water that he offers is because she failed to see Jesus for who he really is. If she had known who Jesus was, she would have asked him.

What is true for her is often true of you and I. We fail to pray because we either have not properly understood who he is, or because we know but have forgotten. The reality of who Jesus is has been lost to us, and as a result, we don’t pray. John Piper, in a sermon on this very text, says…

There is a distinct correlation between not knowing Jesus well and not asking much of him.

This incident between Jesus and the woman at the well shows clearly that our lack of prayer can be a result of not seeing Jesus clearly. It is caused by missing out on the whole person of Christ. If we knew who he is, or were to be reminded of it, we would indeed be asking of him many things.

Christian, have you forgotten who Jesus is? Unbeliever, have you misunderstood the identity of this man? Jesus is God. He is the loving Creator of the universe. He is the spotless Lamb who shed his blood for our sins. He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Judge of the nations who offers forgiveness of sin to all who repent. He is our great High Priest, who has been tempted as we have (yet without sin) and can therefore sympathize with our weaknesses. He is our mediator, making petition on our behalf before God the Father. He is our sinless big brother who laid down his life that we might gain ours. He is our ever-present help in times of trouble. The list goes on and on!

When we are reminded about who Jesus is – of his power, love, compassion, mercy, authority – we will find ourselves naturally turning to him again in prayer. It matters not what kind of prayer it is. Do you need mercy? Jesus gives grace. Do you need provision? Jesus takes care of us. Do you need strength? Jesus can lift you up again. Do you need encouragement? Jesus is a faithful friend. Do you need to remove doubt? Jesus is patient with our fears.

Friend, Jesus is everything you need. Pray to him!

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