There is nothing more important in life than to talk to God. God is the source of life because He is life, truth, and everything that is good; so what could be more important than talking to Him as we live out our lives? If you are ever not sure about what way to go, just remember Jesus’ words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” John 14:6.
What sense does it make that a Christian has trouble praying, but ask any well saved Christian, do you ever have trouble praying and they will at the very least tell you, “My prayer life is not what it should be.” Why is that? Reason number one, of course, is the person who thinks himself to be a Christian but is not. In the greatest sermon of all time, Jesus taught, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” Matthew 7:21. It is not that the person makes himself a Christian by saying so, but God makes a person a Christian by His power and might. As a result such a person does the will of his Father who is in heaven. It is spiritual fruit that tells the tale of whether or not God lives within a person’s heart.
There are numerous reason for prayer to be difficult; the last thing the devil wants to see is a Christian on his knees. Left to himself and his own abilities a Christian is a fairly harmless person, but one Christian who walks with God can destroy mighty fortresses erected by the kingdom of darkness. Just look into history and ask yourself what did God do through a man named Martin Luther, just to name one. God restored the Gospel after 900 years of being held captive to a hierarchal system of popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests that in no way mirror the Biblical account of what the Church is meant to look like in the world.
Another consistent cause for a feeble prayer life among Christians is the selfless nature of prayer when it is done well. Christian people have not been recreated to perfection in this life, they are simply sent in the right direction. Christians can be tempted to selfishness as all other men, and to pray means we worship God and not think about ourselves. Furthermore, we must confess sins, be thankful to God for all things including the most difficult, and intercede for the needs of others. None of these elements of prayer are selfless.
The last reason for a weak prayer life that I want to consider is found in the person that has been taken captive to the belief that prayer can be done by rote. No two people carry on a conversation by reading to one another a script. The art of repetition may be good for saving time or for pretense, as in the hail Mary, but it has no basis in what is meant to be a dynamic relationship between the Savior and the one He saves. Furthermore, Christian disciplines as they are referred to (Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, evangelism, fasting, etc.) are not a means of God’s grace no matter how many books are written to say that they are.
There is only one means of God’s grace and that is Jesus Christ. God is the dynamic in a person’s heart that transforms the sinner into a saint. He breaks the heart of stone in the sinner that rejects any true knowledge of God and turns it into a heart of flesh, so that the most wicked person can coming sobbing to the cross of God’s love. At this point all that God asks of the sinner is to believe that God works within Him, and that holiness cannot be accomplished by his own will or efforts. It is not by the saint’s’ own might or power, or any discipline that arises from his own effort, but by God’s Spirit or so says the Lord. (Zechariah 4:6)
Spiritual disciplines are a fruit of a healthy relationship between saint and savior, as the saint fully embraces the truth that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith embraces the reality that it is God working within the believer through the mighty working of His great power through the Holy Spirit.
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13
It was the Holy Spirit working within a motley band of disciples that turned them into Apostles whose names are written on the foundation of the heavenly city. If you think there was something special within them (The Holy Spirit excluded) you are thinking like a heathen. The 12 were men of no special means of any kind; they were uneducated, unscrupulous, self-seeking, position grabbing, greedy, and violent men. They even argued about who was to be the greatest in the kingdom at the time Jesus ate His last meal with them before His sacrificial death on a Roman cross.
In conclusion, there is nothing more vital than a quiet time well spent with the living God. My point is not that spiritual disciplines do not bear fruit, but that when the soul grows cold, and the heart grows hard, the avenue of recovery is not to work harder and just muddle through until you mysteriously come out of it. Instead, understand that your heart contains unconfessed sin and the solution lies at the cross. Tell God you are cold and look once again to Calvary and Christ for the redemption you so desperately need. Do not work out your salvation with trust in yourself but in the fear of God; for He is the one that works within you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.