Why I Hate Prayer—and How I Am Learning to Pray Anyway

Wednesday is for Prayer

Revised from a 2010 post.

As our church aims at the goal of becoming a church that is extraordinary in its devotion to prayer, it is a good time to be honest about one of the biggest obstacles we face in life as it relates to prayer.

Prayer is a constant battle.

And that is what makes it so hard–its constancy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, speaking of the constancy of waiting in prison made the following observation in prison that I think applies equally well to prayer:

Great battles are easier to fight and less wearing
than the daily guerrilla war.”

Isn’t that exactly our struggle with prayer?  We pray most fervently when our backs are to the wall in some great struggle of soul. But in the daily grind of fighting the subtleties of temptation and the wickedness of our own hearts and inclinations, we fight less fervently, less well. That, brothers and sisters, is why we need accountability in prayer. And that is also why we need to be engaged in the battle.

Like bicycle riding and even the art of reading, you learn to do it by doing it. First efforts to ride a bike or read, though celebrated by parents and children alike, are on close examination, pretty pathetic. But as the practicer practices, a day comes when they can do it. To learn to pray, you have to pray. Or as I have said before, you need to pray until you pray.

All Believers:  There are no shortcuts. You need to pray until you pray.

Church Planters:  Make sure you build that into your ministry.

Compass Church, Bolingbrook Campus, Trinity Church Family and Hope Fellowship Church and others who subscribe to this BLOG:  

Remember, more knees on the ground equals more impact in the world.

11 thoughts on “Why I Hate Prayer—and How I Am Learning to Pray Anyway

  1. Some of my favorite scriptures on prayer are:
    Matthew 21:22 

    If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

    Acts 1:14

    They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

    Acts 2:42

    [ The Fellowship of the Believers ] They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

    Romans 12:12

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

    1 Corinthians 7:5

    Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

    Ephesians 6:18

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

    James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.


  2. Great list Paul. I hope everyone knows, I don’t really hate prayer. But I do have a struggle, in my flesh, in being constant and passionate in my prayer in the daily-ness of it.


    1. I realized your “I hate prayer” was more an attention getter than that you really hated prayer. As I reflect on the statement, I tend to think of how easy and enjoyable and life giving is the daily conversational prayer that occurs continuously throughout each day with our Lord. However, there is a type of prayer that as you say requires more passion and consistency that is a challenge because it requires complete focus for a considerable length of time. And this prayer time does not come without sacrifice of giving up time doing the things of the world. I can relate to the struggle to prioritize to make sure to pray daily with the passion that requires sacrifice. And as you say, we do need accountability – as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.


  3. Add 1 to Paul’s list:
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (16) Rejoice always, (17) pray without ceasing, (18) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

    My cookbook for daily living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.


  4. I believe that an accountability partner is a fantastic idea for the last one that I would ever trust would be me (knowing how desperately wicked and deceitful my heart is). Thank you for this.


  5. I would like to know of an instance where or when prayer worked. The Pope prays for peace!!
    Parents pray for the safety of their children, yet they are still killed. Ministere pray for the deceased yet their already dead.. And on and on.


    1. Sounds like you have been disappointed in prayer. We all have. God is not our great genie in the sky. He is our great savior, come to earth to show us his love only to be spurned and crucified by us. God is both sovereign and good in all of his responses to our prayers. When he says yes and when he says no, he remains good and wise. We, myself included, have a hard time wrapping our heads around that but his ways are not ours. He is God and we aren’t. But I can tell you that I have seen so many answers to prayers over the last 45 years since I trusted in Christ then I can count and I will continue to trust him for more because of them.


  6. Earl, my husband and I have prayed for a car and friends of ours came to us asking if we would like to take the car they had as they were leaving the country to do missions work. God has answered our prayers when we have had nothing to eat and someone leaves a $100 gift card in our mailbox. God has answered our prayer when my husband was losing his job and He provided the exact job we needed at the right time. God is not a Genie and we doing get to “rub” him to get what we want, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t answer prayer.

    In regards to the daily grind of prayer, accountability is key. The Lord has been teaching me that.


    1. Amen Lesley. The post is provocatively titled but you get my point. God is so delighted to answer our prayers, it is a wonder that we aren’t more delighted to pray them and to praise him for his yes’s and no’s to our petitions.

      But that daily grind is indeed why we need both accountability and new perspectives to refresh our vision.


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