“Why Don’t I Feel Like Praying?”

AnxiousSome part of your heart believes you “should” pray. Prayer is a good thing. But you are struggling to find it in you to actually pray.

Does that mean you’re just not “spiritual enough?”

Not necessarily. God made us as whole, integrated human beings. Something that happens in one part of our lives may impact every other area. And that includes your spiritual energy.

Not having a desire to pray may come from many areas. Here are some things that may take your “umph” from praying, and what to do about it:

1. Physical illness. When you are in physical pain, recovering from illness or surgery, or under the influence of some medications, your mind may have a very difficult time formulating prayers to God. A “simple” bad headache may grab your whole mental attention.

What to do: Pray anyway. Your prayer may be short, and consist of primarily a cry for God’s help. But just do it! And know God hears you. Leave the longer prayers for another time if necessary. You may also need to ask someone else to pray for you.

2. Tiredness. If your mind or your body is fatigued the spiritual discipline of prayer will be difficult. We are human beings, and we need rest. God knows that too. Prayer involves more than your brain, but when your brain is not at its best, prayer is less than it could be.

What to do: Pray anyway. Short if necessary. Pray something like, “God, I’m tired. I leave myself in Your care. Goodnight.” Get some rest. And then make a habit of spending some time in prayer in the morning, or whenever you are at your best.

3. People problems. A fight with your spouse, yelling at your child, a significant conflict in a friendship – those can seriously disrupt your communication with God. And until the conflict is dealt with, your prayers will be very superficial.

What to do: To whatever degree it is within your power, make things right. Ask your spouse for forgiveness. Apologize to your child. Call your friend and ask to reconnect. The Bible indicates that if you don’t deal with things at home, your prayers will be hindered, (1 Peter 3:7)

4. Resistance toward God. Sometimes we know what God might say if we went to Him, and we are reluctant to hear it. He might require us to let go of a grudge, change some ungodly behavior, or take an unpopular stand in some area of godly living.

What to do: Pray anyway! Start by telling God about your reluctance: that’s the best way to get it dealt with. Talk to Him about why you don’t want to hear what He has to say. It’s unlikely you will go any further with God until you deal with whatever He is bringing up to you.

5. Spiritual warfare. Without getting into theological debate on this topic, it’s clear from Scripture that the devil does all he can to interfere with God’s work. And that includes trying to interfere when God’s children pray. He knows prayer changes things, even if we aren’t always as sure.

What to do: Pray anyway – more than ever! Whenever I recognize that spiritual warfare may be a factor, it makes me even more determined to stick with God in whatever He is trying to do in and around me. I’m not about to let God’s enemy have his way.

6. Afraid That God Isn’t On Your Side. You’ve done something wrong, and your human heart worries God won’t forgive you. You’re hurt, angry, sad, confused, or doubting, and it’s hard to believe God can really understand how you feel.

What to do: Pray anyway. Start by telling Him exactly what is on your heart – your fear, worry, anger, doubt, etc. Let the witness of all those who have gone to God before you reassure you: God IS on your side. He WILL understand.

7. Religious Tradition. Perhaps “prayer” to you means kneeling with your eyes closed, or standing with hands raised and shouting, or speaking in religious-sounding phrases you’ve heard all your life. You just don’t feel like fitting into that mold, at least not right now.

What to do: Pray anyway. But let go of the tradition. Try something completely different. Read the Psalms and find one that speaks to where your heart is right now. Go to a different location. Try talking to God with your eyes open, or mumbling through your tears.

When I was junior-high age, I remember making lists of things I had to mention to God, mostly to ask His forgiveness for. I’ve grown a lot since then: I still need His forgiveness, but prayer is so much richer, varied, and meaningful now that my relationship with Him has grown.

If you struggle to pray, you’re not alone. Just don’t give up! He’s waiting to hear from you.

Your turn: What are the reasons you struggle to pray? What do you do at those times? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

P.S. You may also be interested in this earlier post: What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Praying.

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