When it comes to my excuses for not praying, I have three, solid pleas which I regret to admit have often freed me from the bond of love and intimacy with God:
- “I’m too busy.”
- “I’m working on things which are more important than prayer.”
- “I don’t need to pray right now.” (i.e. “My relationship with God is ok right now and I don’t need to spend time with Him.”)
What struck me as I observed Jesus’ regular prayer life in the Gospel of Luke was that each of these excuses are much more applicable to Jesus than myself, yet Jesus never used them.
Let’s consider how each of these excuses could have been used by Jesus.
Jesus and My Excuses
- “I’m too busy” - I am busy (aren’t we all), but so was Jesus. The Gospels regularly record that Jesus was regularly surrounded by crowds whom He taught, healed, and confronted. Yet, through all of this, Jesus still made time to pray. Consider Luke 5:15-16:
But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
If anyone could have said “I’m too busy”, it could have been Jesus… but He didn’t because He understood the peace, joy, and necessity of prayer.
- “I’m working on things which are more important than prayer.” - I am tempted to use this one a lot. I am quickly humbled, however, when I consider that Jesus, even while performing miraculous healings, never made this excuse. That paper, project, blog post, or work may be important, but I doubt it will heal lepers, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, heal a hemorrhage, cause the lame to walk, or offer salvation to the entire world. My point is that if anyone could have used the excuse that he/she was doing things that were more important than prayer, it was Jesus… and He never used this excuse because He understood the power, significance, and restorative power of prayer.
- “I don’t need to pray right now.” - Sometimes, we are tempted to view prayer as medication; take it when something goes horribly wrong and promptly leave it alone when the symptoms subside. We take prayer seriously when we are in a difficult situation or God has shown us tremendous grace in a temporal situation. Thus, we often feel that we don’t have any need for regular, passionate, and fervent prayer. We have our life decently under control and have very little need of anything from the Father. Like the two points above, what is ironic about this excuse is that Jesus could have used it more convincingly than we can. If any human being has ever had his or her act together enough to claim that he/she did not need to pray, it was Jesus. He is God! And yet, He prays regularly (Luke 5:16) and fervently (Luke 22:44). That is because He understood the transformative, relational, and convicting powers of prayer.
My point in writing this is simple. To convince you that you have no reason not to pray and to encourage you to do so. There are great joys of intimacy with your Heavenly Father that are freely available to you. He is a fool who does not claim his rightful inheritance!