Jesus offered what we call The Lord’s Prayer in response to the desire of the apostles. They said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They did not say, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” The issue is not how we pray, but that we pray. In his groundbreaking book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller asserts that only ten percent of those active in church have an intentional prayer life. We know we should pray, but we don’t pray. We say we will pray, but then we don’t.
Certainly, Jesus set the example when it comes to prayer. In Mark’s first account of Jesus’ life and ministry, he says Jesus went out alone and prayed under the darkness of night. When he knew it was time to select the twelve on whom he would build the church, he first prayed all night. So we know we should pray and we know that Jesus prayed. So why don’t we pray?
Let’s start by exploding the myth on why we don’t pray. We hear it all the time. “I’m just not disciplined enough to pray.” The problem is not discipline. I’ll say that again. The problem is not discipline. Do you know anyone who stopped breathing due to lack of discipline or someone who quit eating because they just weren’t disciplined enough? The problem is not self-discipline, the need for more education, or a training seminar on prayer.
Here’s the problem. The reason – the only reason – we don’t pray is that we lack desperation. We need what Oswald Chambers called a “poverty of spirit.” When you are desperate for something to drink, you drink. When you are desperate for God, you pray. America is the hardest place to pray because it is the easiest place to live. Jesus was the most dependent person in the world. He depended on his Father for the words he would speak, intimate spiritual fellowship, and as the provider of his needs. So Jesus prayed. When you are desperate for God, you will pray. But first, you must begin seeking God’s heart rather than his hand.
Do you pray enough? If you answered “no,” quit asking God to fill you with a desire to pray and ask him to knock you down to whatever level is necessary to make you desperate for him. Until you are truly desperate, all the self-discipline in the world will never result in a good prayer life.