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By Gordon Ellison

“I Never Pray.”

That’s what he said, but I had difficulty believing him.  I was conversing about faith and the power of prayer, and he told me that he never prays.  On reflection, I wondered if that was true and how he navigated the complexities of his life without prayer.

We observe that prayer is a natural response to many life situations, especially unexpected or unwelcome ones.  It is said that after the 9/11 event that was so traumatic for all, people flocked to churches and counselors requesting prayer.

So why would someone say that they never pray?  There are many reasons, including doubt and unbelief or disappointment and bitterness in not receiving answers to their prayers.

And why do Jesus’ followers pray?  As believers in God – children of our Heavenly Father – people of faith, we experience God as personal and intimate and recognize that He desires that His children communicate with Him in prayer.  Often, it is the example of another that cultivates a desire to pray.  Over time, the disciples undoubtedly observed Jesus as he prayed to his heavenly Father.

In Luke 11:1-4, Jesus said, “When you pray….”

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  And he said to them, “When you pray, say:  Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.

It is expected and normal that children desire to talk with and listen to their fathers.  We can safely assume that God, our heavenly Father, anticipates that we will want to communicate with Him.  As we grow, we listen and discover our Father’s wishes – His hopes and dreams for us, His children.

As the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus wants a relationship with those in his “flock.”  He desires our obedience to his teachings.  And He likes our active involvement in his ongoing work worldwide.  We believe that the Great Commission is just that – the Great C0-mission.  God, in His eternal plan, uses us to accomplish His plans and purposes through who we are as believers and what we do as we live our lives for His glory.

Over my lifetime, I have been taught to believe that our every thought of God is prompted by God’s Spirit, and in prayer, God is the Caller – the Prompter.  We are the listeners and, subsequently, the actors in response to his leading and commands – all in His plan and timing.  And in both, God teaches us and uses us.

For example, in our work through evangelism, we believe that God is the Caller and that we are agents in communicating the truths of the Gospel to someone as yet unreached.

Paul, the apostle, both believed in and depended on prayer.  Many of his prayers are recorded in his writings.  (Philippians 1:3-11Ephesians 1:15-21)

In Romans 1, we read of Paul’s prayer habit, which, over time, became central to his life and ministry:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.   For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.  – Romans 1:8-12 [ESV]

Would Paul have traveled to see them if he had not discerned the will of God in prayer?  We do not know, but this we do know:  Paul depended on prayer related to his personal needs and missionary activities.

Jesus invites us to come to him in humility and dependence.  Jesus said, “Come unto me….”  Not only for God’s forgiveness and mercy but also to seek his presence and guidance and to take his yoke upon ourselves as we labor in his harvest.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   – Matthew 27:27-29

In contrast to those who do not pray, there are many reasons why we do pray. Some of the common reasons include the following:

  • Expressing gratitude and praise: Prayer can be a way to express gratitude to God for the blessings in life, such as good health, relationships, or opportunities.
  • Seeking God’s guidance: Many people pray to seek guidance or clarity. They may be facing difficult decisions or situations and turn to prayer for God’s help and guidance in making the right choices.
  • Finding God’s comfort: Prayer can provide comfort and solace during challenging times. It can give a sense of peace and calm amid chaos.
  • Connecting or re-connecting with God, our Father: Prayer is a powerful way to communicate with God to strengthen or deepen a spiritual connection and to draw close to Him.
  • Offering Support: Prayer can also be a way to support others going through difficult times, either by praying for them or with them.

Ultimately, just as many have reasons to not pray, the reasons for prayer are personal and can vary from person to person.

So, we pray.  And in so doing, we broaden our circle of concern, compassion, and cooperation with the God of the universe. We discover that He is God, and we are not. So, we pray.

Recently, I received an email from a friend serving in a leadership role in South Africa.  The subject line said:  Time-sensitive prayer request.  After reading her message, I prayed and asked the Lord to bless her efforts and provide for the specific need mentioned.

The following day I received an update from the same person.  She shared the following:

The meeting went really well. I believe that the Lord shaped us and guided us in all our conversations. Did we end up where I wanted everything to go?  No. But we worked as a team, listened to each other, and no one dug their heels in. We are no longer stuck. There is a way forward which is a weight lifted. It is not perfect – but we are all resting in God’s grace and trusting He will work out the details along the way. So thank you for praying with me. The Lord has answered in His perfect way.

So, we pray.  In doing so, we become aware that each of us has one or more friends or relationships who depend on our prayers on their behalf, including our global servants whose prayer and ministry update communications we receive occasionally. 

It might be good to let them know that you were faithful to their request for prayer since you are not among those who do not pray. In return, many of them will no doubt encourage you by sharing how God used your prayers to accomplish great things for the sake of the gospel.



On your social media, copy and paste this link to your social media and answer one or more of the questions. 

  • Have you ever experienced God’s “no” or “not now” to your prayers? Later, how did you see God work through it?
  • What caused your silence before God to never pray?
  • On our prayer wall, write out a short prayer for someone serving in ministry.

Share this article with someone who needs the encouragement to pray. 

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