Is Prayerlessness a Sin?
In 1 Samuel, Israel demanded a king who would rule over them as one of the judges of Israel. They wanted to be like the other nations. Samuel told them in doing so they had rejected God as their king. Nevertheless, God gave them the king they desired. He said, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23 KJV).
How often do we want to be like everyone else? We want to be just like the world. Sadly, even the church attempts to mimic the world. The Bible strictly warns us against this. We are exhorted, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NKJV). “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8 NASB). This also applies to the religious world. Speaking of the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said, “Be not ye therefore like unto them” (Matthew 6:8 KJV).
As pastors, when people are rebellious toward God, it can be frustrating and exhausting. However, we must remain steadfast in our love, instruction and prayer for them. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 KJV).
Samuel had such a love, commitment and faithfulness to the people of God. “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23 KJV). We must continue to love and teach people “the good and the right way” regardless of their behavior and rebellion. We must also be committed to continuously taking them before the Lord in prayer.
This does not just apply to leaders praying for their congregation, but also us praying for our leaders. “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASB). What is your prayer life like? Do you throw up an occasional prayer as things arise, or do you have a time set apart daily for spending quality time with the Lord in prayer? In our text, Samuel is clearly saying that it is a sin for us not to pray.
Here are a few reasons why prayerlessness is sin:
Prayerlessness does those around us a disservice (1 Samuel 12:23). Even in their rebellious state Samuel would have been doing them a disservice not to continue to pray for them. We, likewise, are doing those around us a disservice when we fail to pray for them. Today, like never before, people desperately need our prayers.
Paul urges that prayers should be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Are we praying for our leaders? We have no right to complain about our leaders if we have not been consistently praying for them. What about your pastor? He needs your prayers. Pastors often fight major spiritual battles as your spiritual leader that few are aware of. They need your prayers. Make a commitment today to doing spiritual warfare for your church, your pastor and our leaders as a nation.
Prayerlessness is disobedience. We are commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV). Also, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1 KJV); “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6 KJV). Failure to pray is direct disobedience to the command and will of God. If you do have a consistent prayer life, you should be encouraged that you are obeying God’s word, will and plan for your life.
Prayerlessness reveals our unwillingness to let God work in our life. It was said of Jesus, “He withdrew from them (His disciples) about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke22:41-44 NASB).
Jesus, in the flesh, did not want to go to the cross. He knew what it would be like. He would not only face the physical and emotional pain of the cross, but God’s wrath and separation from God, with whom he had experienced fellowship with throughout eternity. He wrestled with God in fervent prayer and surrendered to his will. It’s in prayer that we allow God to mess with our lives. It’s in our personal prayer experience that we often wrestle with God, our will is broken, and we surrender to his will. Not to pray is a refusal to let him work in our life. When we have a consistent prayer life, we are constantly giving God the opportunity to work in our life. It’s only then that true surrender takes place.
Prayerlessness is negligence of a divine privilege purchased at a great price. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV). “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22 NASB). Are we neglecting this divine privilege purchased for us at Calvary? Sadly, far too many of God’s people are guilty of being negligent of this great privilege. Isaiah cried out, “And there is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee” (Isaiah 64:7 KJV).
When Jesus went to the cross, suffered and died, the veil of the temple was ripped in two. This signified there would never again be anything keeping man out of God’s presence when we come to him through Jesus. Not to spend regular time with God in prayer is to neglect this divine privilege purchased at such a great price. When we consistently spend time with the Father in prayer, we are taking advantage of this great privilege of entering God’s presence and experiencing a touch and glimpse of His glory. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 KJV). Let’s lay hold of this precious privilege purchased for us on Calvary.
Prayerlessness demonstrates our independence. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NASB). The Psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1 NASB). Not spending regular time with God in prayer demonstrates we think we can handle things on our own. Spending time with him in prayer shows we are completely dependent upon him. Apart from God we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Prayerlessness reveals our unbelief. The Bible says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed” (Romans 10:14a NKJV)? “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV). “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15 NKJV).
If we knew for certain if we asked God for something we would get it, wouldn’t we pray? Not to spend time in prayer reveals we don’t really believe God will hear and answer our prayers. We all struggle with unbelief, but if we are spending time daily with God in prayer, it reveals at least a degree of faith or we wouldn’t be praying. If we didn’t have an element of faith that God hears and answers prayer, we wouldn’t take the time to pray at all. Let’s go boldly before the throne of grace saying, “God, I’m here praying because I believe in You and Your Word. If I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t be here praying. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NKJV).
Prayerlessness opens the door for other sins. When Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, he told His disciples, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40 NASB). He then withdrew Himself to pray alone. After praying a while, He returned to find them asleep and said, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:46 NASB). In “The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus commanded us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 KJV).
Jesus commanded us to pray that we would not be tempted. Not to pray leaves us wide open to temptation, sin and failure. We all experience times of temptation and battles with the flesh. Let’s face it, our flesh is weak. This is why Jesus exhorted the early disciples and us, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NKJV). Spending regular time alone with God in prayer minimizes temptation and failure. I wonder if things would have been different if the disciples had prayed instead of sleeping (Luke 22:30-46 and Matthew 26:36-44).
Prayerlessness hinders revival. Just before the day of Pentecost, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14 NASB) and three thousand people were saved. Later, just prior to a lame man being healed and another two thousand being saved, “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1 NASB). After being threatened not to preach or teach in the name of Jesus, “they went to their own company” and “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (Acts 4:23-24 KJV). As a result, “the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31 KJV).
As a result, “There came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4 NASB). Peter then preached, and those who had gathered were “pierced to the heart; and those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls to the church” (Acts 2:37 and 2:41 NASB). Not praying hinders revival, but constant concerted praying ushers in revival.
Prayerlessness proves God isn’t first in our lives. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:24, 6:33 NASB). John exhorts us, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 KJV). God demands to be number one in our life. Failure to spend regular time with him in prayer reveals he isn’t first in our life. However, if we spend regular time with God in prayer, it proves we are at least attempting to put him first. Let’s commit to spend time daily with God in prayer.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for my lack of prayer. Give me the desire, commitment and discipline to seek you daily in prayer, putting you first in my life.