Sins We All Commit Without Knowing They Are Sin (pt 2 of 4): Prayer
Series Introduction: This series examines three areas of sin that exist in everyone's life, albeit to varying degrees. As we examine these sins together, let us remember that looking at these sins is not intended to bring a guilt trip down upon anyone, but rather intended to shed some honest light on subjects that people don't like to recognize as sin. Will it make you uncomfortable to look at these this way? Yes. It makes me uncomfortable. It should make us uncomfortable. But if we are going to seek to live in accordance with God's will and "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:14) (the goal being Christ-likeness), then we must look honestly at these things and make adjustments. (Part 1)
New Year. New Promises. New Goals. New Resolutions. New Drive. New Passion. New Determination. And......New Failure.
Wait. That's not supposed to be on the list. But for many people, New Year Resolutions flop by Jan 8th (25%). By the end of the year, some 85-90% of once resolute Americans fail at their goals. Well, that's a bummer. Unlike the self-deceived Calvin in the Comic above, we all recognize that we aren't perfect. That's why resolutions are made: because we desire change. And yet at the end of the year we get lists like this:
hmmmm..... not a happy list. Why am I talking about this? Well, I know a lot of Christians who make one of their resolutions to "make prayer a real priority" in the new year. I've been there myself. And I've failed. Just like all the other people I've talked to about this. How can we change this?
First, prayer must be something you desire to do. If you claim to be a Christian and you don't pray much and/or don't desire to increase your prayer life, then consider this as a motivation to desire and start to pray regularly:
This series is about sins we commit without knowing it is sin. Well, I submit to you that a life devoid of habitual prayer is a life being lived in sin. How do I figure? Simple logic: All Christians should agree that disobedience to the Lord is sin. There are several places in Scripture where we are commanded to pray. Therefore, to neglect prayer is disobedience to the Lord, and therefore sin. Check out these verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing”
Luke 18:1 “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart”
2 Timothy 2:1 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men”
Romans 12:12b in a list where Paul is giving commands on how to live, he says to be “continuing steadfastly in prayer”
Ephesians 6:18 Prayer is a part of the armor of God that we are commanded to take up “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”
I could go on, but you see the point. We are commanded to pray. As a Christian, knowing that God wants you to do something should bring about a desire to do it, simply because you want to please your heavenly Father who has granted you eternal life.
The awesome thing is that God doesn’t command us to pray simply because he wants to have us follow certain rules and this might as well be one of them. No, instead, God commands us to pray because he legitimately wants to fellowship with us and have a relationship with us. He wants to see you mature in your spiritual walk, He wants you to grow, He wants you to see answers to your prayers, and He wants you to know Him. Do you desire these things? If so, then you and God desire the same thing. If you do not desire these things, I suggest doing some serious soul searching to see if you really are a Christian in the first place (2 Cor 13:5).
So if you do desire to please the Lord and grow and mature and walk in obedience to Him in this area, how are you to make sure that you do not fail in your endeavor pray more in 2015? I do not know who said it first, but I recently read a quote that said “A goal without a plan is only a wish”. What this is saying is that if you just say “I will try to pray more in 2015” and leave it at that, you will fail; I guarantee it. If you do not have a practical plan in place, with attainable goals and helpful safeguards, your goal, no matter how sincere or resolute you may be, will be left unattained and will become your first goal for 2016. And 2017. And 2018. And so on.
So, what’s your plan? I wrote on this blog previously about fostering a prayer life and you may find that post helpful. Below is a step-by-step template that incorporates some of what I wrote about in that post.
Step one: Repent. We have identified this prayerlessness as sin before God. Go to Him in prayer and repent of this sin. He has promised forgiveness so go boldly (but humbly) before the throne of grace.
Step two: Set you goal. (e.g. I will pray for 30 minutes every day (or 15, or 10; make it attainable. Do not get too ambitious or you will get discouraged easily.)
Step three: Plan when to accomplish this goal. (e.g. I will pray immediately following breakfast, I will pray immediately before bed, I will pray upon waking, etc. choose a time when you are less likely to be distracted, a time when you can be focused)
Step four: Give yourself aids to help you succeed (Prayer journal (for tracking answers), prayer schedule (for staying focused), prayer apps (like PrayerMate (iOS and Android), etc. I wrote about these things in my previously mentioned blog post on prayer)
Step five: Set up an accountability system. (e.g. tell your spouse and even your children that 8-8:30pm is your prayer time and you are not to be disturbed, tell your pastor and ask for accountability, have regular meetings with a close, mature Christian friend who will ask you how your prayer life is going and give advice, etc.)
Step six: Put the plan into action. Prayer won’t happen by itself. You have to choose to do it.
I recommend doing this in conjunction with your Scripture reading. You talk to God through prayer and He talks to you through Scripture so it only makes sense to have them together to have a complete conversation.
Hopefully this post has been an encouragement to you. It looks at prayer from a different perspective, but I’m convinced it’s biblical. May we all seek to honor the Lord more through our prayer lives. Here’s to a prayerful 2015 of Christian growth and increased spiritual maturity.
P.S. You do not have to wait until a new year to start a plan such as this. Whenever you read this would be a great day to start.