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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How to Overcome Prayerlessness

Let’s admit it

Prayer is hard.

My mind wanders — did I answer that person’s email?

Other things seem really important — maybe I should take out the trash.

Excuses arise — I’ll feel more like praying after American Idol.

And yet …

Jesus — our Savior — who created us, loves us, died for us — calls us to pray.

With perfect wisdom and abounding love He looks us in the eye and says —

  • “pray always” (Luke 18:1)
  • “pray persistently” (Luke 11:8)
  • “pray earnestly” (Mat 9:38)

So how can we grow in prayer?

What’s behind prayerlessness?

The Bible teaches that obedience flows from faith in God’s promises (Heb 11:8; Rom 1:5).

So if I’m not praying — it’s because I’m not trusting God’s promises about prayer.

Which means there’s something I can do besides just trying harder.

What I can do is find the promises I’m not trusting — and pray over them until the Holy Spirit strengthens my faith in them.

Then — when I am trusting God’s promises about prayer — I will pray.

Here’s my challenge

If you have been weak in prayer, take a few minutes every day for the next week and —

  • confess your unbelief (1 John 1:9)
  • ask Jesus to strengthen your faith in His promises (Mark 9:24)
  • prayerfully meditate on His promises about prayer (Rom 10:17)

Then watch how the Holy Spirit increases your faith and your desire to pray.

How can I be so sure that will happen?  Because of Scriptures like Mark 9:24, Luke 11:13, and Rom 10:17.

So what promises should you use?

Here are some that I have found helpful —

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:6)

Rewards.  Jesus wants us to be motivated by rewards.

He wants us to think — I am going to pray now — because God in His mercy will then reward me.

So — when was the last time you thought that way?

Start now.

But — what is the reward?  That’s the next promise —

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  (John 6:35)

We all have heart-hungers — for joy, peace, and pleasure.

Jesus is the bread of life that satisfies all our heart-hungers — not with what He gives — but with who He is.

When we experience Jesus Himself — His love, His glory, His majesty — our hearts are fully satisfied.

And how do we experience this?  By praying — coming to Him and believing in Him.

Prayer brings you to the only One who can fully satisfy your heart.

So — pray.

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.  (Psa 50:15)

Whatever trouble you face — if you will call upon God in Jesus’ name — He will deliver you.

Sometimes God delivers by removing us from the trouble.

Other times He delivers by giving us everything we need in the trouble.

But every time you face trouble — and call upon God — He will deliver you.

Every time.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  (Mat 7:7-8)

I often quote this promise as I begin to pray, because it is SO encouraging.

Everyone who asks — receives.  So if you will pray — He promises — you will receive.

Receive what?

You will receive exactly what you are asking for — or something even better — which you probably would not have received had you not asked.

But this will only happen if we ask.  So — ask.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  (Psa 86:5)

Abounding means overflowing, cup running over, more than you need.

And He will abound in steadfast love to all who call upon Him.

So — as you call upon God through Jesus Christ — it’s absolutely certain what will happen —

He will abound in steadfast love to you.

If — you call upon Him.  So — pray.

You do not have, because you do not ask.  (Jam 4:2)

God is sovereign over everything.

But — there’s mystery here — in His sovereignty God has chosen to work through my prayers.

Which is why James says there are things God would have given me — that He did not give me — because I didn’t ask.

Which is why it’s so urgent that we pray.

So — pray.

Comments?  Feedback?  Questions?

I’d love to hear them — leave a reply below.  Thanks.

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Category: Help with Prayer

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21 Responses

  1. Jon says:

    Thanks Steve – I’ve been trying to get my prayer life back on track “old school in the flesh style” with discipline etc. This is a great reminder and corrective to approaching my prayer life situation.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Such a joy to hear from you again, Jon. And I, too, often slip back into the “old school in the flesh style.” I’m so glad you found this helpful — thanks for letting me know.

  2. Jason Belk says:

    Agreed with Jon’s comments. Also the comments from Steve on the retreat from Martin Luther I have found to be true. Luther spoke along the lines that he needs others prayers to keep his faith strong. I covet those prayers as well and can tell when they are being lifted up

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I love having you visiting the blog, Jason. Thanks for stopping my and leaving your encouraging comments.

      We’re looking forward to seeing you next week!

  3. Wow! This was a really timely message for me! It really hit home! I so appreciate your encouragement not to just try harder. That tends to be my natural response to just push myself to do it. But it makes sense that as we focus on the promises, God will change our hearts so that we want to come to Him, believing the promises, and that then we will be enabled to come with joy, expecting God to meet with us. I read your post yesterday and then again this morning. But after I read it yesterday, I was pondering on it and the Lord really seemed to enlighten my understanding to see that my difficulty in prayer, and other areas of struggle, were coming from a lack of seeking out and believing in His promises. I do use some of the promises, but not nearly enough and haven’t made a habit of it. I’m going to start studying them and writing them down so that I can use them daily. I really appreciate your encouragement in this regard! Thank you!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I am so glad that you are writing down and studying God’s promises.

      I’ve got a stack of 3×5 cards with Scripture Promises written on them that I work through regularly. I find it deeply strengthening.

      Press on, Breanna — He is worth it all.

      Steve Fuller

  4. Meridian says:

    I agree with Breanna that this message is timely. I struggle with prayer, even though I know God hears me and has answered very specific prayers for me in the past. My brain usually gets in the way or sidetracks me with rabbit trails. I kind of wish He would just appear across the table with His perpetual cup of coffee so it’d be easier to focus on Him 🙂

    As the stay-at-home mom of a special needs child, I don’t get much time in the prayer closet. I’m also dealing with lots of frustrating situations on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. So often in the midst of a busy day, I simply talk (or vent) out loud to Him like I would a human friend…plain old common conversation while I’m putting clothes in the washer or fixing lunch. I figure if He can hear me on my knees, He can hear me while I’m making my son a plate of tacos, lol!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      We have not had a special-needs child — but I do remember when my wife faced similar challenges when it came to prayer.

      And she did much of what you describe and found it helpful.

      She also sometimes left a Bible open on the kitchen counter so she could grab a quick verse from time to time.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Meridian.

      Steve Fuller

  5. Louise says:

    Great encouragement! Here are a couple or three things that have encouraged my prayer life immensely. One year I promised myself that whenever anyone said “prayer” I would be there, so I showed up at every prayer meeting I heard about for 12 months. Taught me a lot. Second, I read “A Praying Life.” Great book. Very readable and practical. Third, I have a prayer partner. We have prayed, over the phone or in person, for our families every week for about ten years now. Powerful stuff.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great suggestions, Louise. I was deeply impacted by “A Praying Life.”

      And thanks for the encouragement towards prayer meetings and prayer-partners.

      Onward!

      Steve

  6. Kyle Laplante says:

    Thanks for the awesome words of encouragement. I have been struggling with this for a while. Every time i pray my mind would just get bombarded with other thoughts. The devil tries so hard to get me to focus on anything but prayer. I have to remember to have faith in his promises. If i ask god to keep me focused on praying then he will come through for me.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great to hear from you, Kyle! And Paul Miller’s book “A Praying Life” gives a great suggestion for dealing with distractions in prayer.

      He says that when a distracting thought comes up — it often helps to pray about it. If it’s a worry — lift it up to the Lord. If it’s an idol — repent over it and as God to crush it. Whatever it is — the fact that it’s distracting you shows it’s important to you — so make it a matter of prayer.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  7. Ramona Norvell says:

    I have found this site to be a huge encouragement to me, as I have been struggling with a lot of things lately and wasn’t sure how to think or go to God about them. There are so many good explanations on here that I’ve needed to see for years. I love the way it is broken down into everyday terms and ways to deal with our issues. I visit this site 2 or 3 times a day and I feel it is really helping me to understand.

  8. Eddie says:

    I, like many apparently, struggle with prayer. I often find it hard to know what to pray and then as I struggle it gets worse to the point that I can’t say anything and I become very frustrated. My wife and I often pray together after studying several chapters. We are currently reading Psalms, Matthew and Romans. The words flow through her and she is so beautiful in prayer, it can actually become intimidating for me. So, here I am, searching the internet on how to overcome prayerlessness. Thanks for your post, I do believe this is some good advice and will try to put it to use.

  9. 1gracedlife says:

    Thank you. I’m going to practice what you suggest. Just reading this I believe you are right…faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Isn’t it a relief to know that Jesus saves us, & then keeps saving us… doing the work in us…we rest on the promises, He works it out. Thank you for the scriptures to start with.

  10. Daisey Tarrant says:

    Subscribe

  11. 2joyful says:

    Thank you so so much for this post, i think i got something helpful and promising from it…..

  12. Anton says:

    I have a major problem! While I am in private I do not have a problem praying. I can gladly pray to God and tell God everything that bothers me and my needs and thank Him for everything. But I cannot pray loudly in group or even in our church. Praying in our church is important as I am one of the Deacons and often when it comes to collection or communion I cannot pray and have to ask somebody else to stand in for me. It has become quite embarresing and I think I am missing out on the most important things in life and thats God’s Blessings. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for raising this question, Anton.

      If the problem is fear — maybe fearing that you will say the wrong thing — I would tackle that by reading blog posts on this site dealing with fear (check the middle column on “Fearful or Worried?”).

      Then I would pray and ask God to help you. Maybe pray through Exodus 3 which talks about Moses’ fear of public speaking.

      Seek to have your focus be on pleasing God with your prayer. You do also want it to edify others — but that will come as you focus on the Lord.

      Do you also have a hard time speaking in public, or is it just praying?

      I hope this helps some — and may the Lord use you powerfully in public prayer!

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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