Mt 17:17, 21 “Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me…Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Not praying is a big deal. To God. No matter what anybody says. And like this father in Matthew 17, other in our sphere of influence and ministry suffer as the result of it. Andrew Murray, in his classic book Living a Prayerful Life, confronts us with this convicting reality:
Why is prayerlessness such a serious sin? At first it would seem to be merely a weakness. So much is said about lack of time and all sorts of distractions that the deep guilt of the situation is not recognized. From now on, let us acknowledge prayerlessness as the sin that it is.
1. It is a reproach to God.
The holy and most glorious God invites us to come to Him, to converse with Him, to ask Him for the things we need, and to experience the depth of blessing there is in fellowship with Him. He has created us in His own image and has redeemed us by His own Son, so that in conversation with Him we should find our greatest delight.
What use do we make of this heavenly privilege? How many of us admit to taking a mere five minutes for prayer! The claim is that there is no time. The reality is that a heart desire for prayer is lacking. Many do not know how to spend half an hour with God! It is not that they absolutely do not pray; they may pray every day—but they have no joy in prayer. Joy is the sign that God is everything to you.
If a friend comes to visit, there is time. We make time— even at the cost of something else—for the sake of enjoying pleasant conversation with our friend. Yes, there is time for everything that truly interests us, but time is scarce to practice fellowship with God and to enjoy being with Him! We find time for someone who can be of service to us; but day after day, month after month passes, and for many there is no time to spend even one hour with God.
We must acknowledge that we disrespect and dishonor God when we say we cannot find time for fellowship with Him. If this sin begins to appear ordinary to us, we must cry out to God: ‘‘O God, be merciful to me, and forgive me this awful sin of prayerlessness.’’
2. It is the cause of a deficient spiritual life.
Prayerlessness is proof that for the most part our life is still under the power of the flesh. Prayer is the pulse of life; by it the doctor can diagnose the condition of the heart. The sin of prayerlessness proves to the ordinary Christian or minister that the life of God in the soul is mortally sick and weak. Much is said and many complaints are made about the failure of the church to fulfill her calling, to exercise an influence on her members, to deliver them from the power of the world, and to bring them to a life of holy consecration to God.
Much is also said about the church’s indifference to the millions for whom Christ died who depend upon her to make known to them His love and salvation. Why is it that thousands of Christian workers in the world have no greater influence than they do? I venture to say that it is because of prayerlessness. With all their zeal for study and work in the church, in spite of all their faithfulness in preaching and encouragement of the people, they lack the prayer that brings the Spirit and power from on high. The sin of prayerlessness is the root cause of a powerless spiritual life.
The quickest way to frustrate/offend Jesus with our discipleship is not by slipping into some hedonistic bender; all it takes is a delinquency in our intercessions that we attempt to justify. Be different. Be a disciple. Pray!