supplication before his God” (Daniel 6:11).
“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the
Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
One of the darkest, bleakest transgressions that can be
committed by a child of God is the sin of prayerlessness. This sin is the worst
of sins because it leads us to all other transgressions and sins
When we pray, we come from darkness to light. We come from
bleakness to hope. We come from despair to peace. We come from sin to
righteousness. We come from transgression to holiness.
Daniel’s Commitment to Prayer
The Bible declares that Daniel, a Jewish exile, became the chief
president in the Medo-Persian Empire, the first among the three presidents who
were over the one hundred and twenty princes in the empire.
Daniel was a man who served King Darius well, and the king loved
him. But envy and jealousy and strife rose up among the presidents and princes
and they set out to destroy Daniel. In their investigation of his life, they
could find no fault with him except in the way he worshiped God. He did not
observe the pagan gods, but he devoutly served the one true God of his fathers.
It is a beautiful testimony when those with whom we work and
live can find nothing against us except the way we worship and serve God.
Certainly, being a Christian is more than just going to church and joining in
the worship. It involves a seven-days-a-week commitment to Jesus Christ-at work
and at home. The Bible tells us that we are to have a good report of those
outside the church.
Under a false pretense, the envious presidents and princes got
the king to sign a decree that made it unlawful for Daniel to pray to his God
for thirty days. Daniel knew that the law had been signed, but he also knew what
it was to pray. He did not pray because of the emergency. He did not pray
because there was sickness in his house. He did not pray because he was in some
kind of trouble. He did not pray because he wanted some success in his ministry.
He prayed because he believed in prayer. He prayed because he knew that to know
the one true God he must of necessity pray to God.
When he learned of the new law, Daniel did what he always did.
Three times, each day he opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem. He
believed that the God of Israel, the Lord of Jerusalem, would someday bring the
people of God back to the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, kneeling beside the
window, he stretched his hands toward God and Jerusalem and prayed everyday. He
knew trouble would come, but he also knew that nothing should interfere with his
commitment to prayer – a commitment that is an example for us to follow.
The People Ask Samuel To Pray
The words in 1Samuel 12:23 came after the prophet Samuel felt
rejected by the people of Israel. The people to whom he had ministered and to
whom he had given leadership and godly council demanded that they have a king to
reign over them. Samuel would no longer be the civil judge, although he would
remain a spiritual leader – a priest and a prophet.
After Samuel anointed Saul to be king over Israel, the old
gray-headed prophet pointed out to the Israelites their sin in wanting a king
other than Jehovah; nevertheless, he admonished them to follow the Lord, to fear
and obey His voice, and told them that God would still bless the nation under a
monarchy. On the other hand, he warned them that if they continually rebelled
against God, then the judgement of God would be upon them.
When the people realized their sin of asking for a king, they
said to Samuel, “Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die
not” (1 Samuel 12:19). In his answer, Samuel said, “As for me, God forbid
that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.”
Prayerlessness Is A Sin
We need to realize as did Samuel, that prayerlessness is a sin.
We often say that it is unfortunate that we do not pray more. We often say,
“Well, I guess our lack of prayer is the reason we are weak or that we are
ineffective.” I have yet to hear somebody say, “I have sinned against God this
day because I have not prayed this day unto my God.”
Why is it a sin not to pray? First of all, the Bible expressly
calls it a sin. And if the Bible calls it a sin, it is a sin. Sometimes people,
call things sin when they have no Bible, but the Bible clearly tells us that
prayerlessness is sin.
Samuel said, “God forbid that I should sin.” Sin is always
wrapped around “I”. If Samuel felt it was a sin not to pray, can we believe that
we can get by without feeling that it is a sin?
It is a sin not to pray because it is right to pray. Jesus said
that men ought always to pray (Luke 18:1). In Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to
“pray without ceasing.” Ephesians 6:18 reads “Praying always, with all prayer
and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and
supplication for all saints.”
The disciples came to Jesus with a request: “Lord, teach as to
pray, as John also taught his disciples ” (Luke 11:1). Something so moved those
disciples as they watched the ministry of the Lord Jesus that they came to Him
with the request. “Lord, teach us to pray.” Will we be moved to prayer by the
teaching and example of our Lord?
The Bible also gives us an astonishing principle in James 4:17
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is a
sin.” In other words, if we know something is right to do and we do not do it,
then our failure is a sin. If there is anything that is right in the Bible,
prayer is right.
There are sins of commission and sins of omission. We are
experts on the sins of commission. We rightfully and readily rejoice when the
preacher expounds against trashy television programs, rock and roll music, drugs
and alcohol, and immorality. But when he turns to the sins of omission, we often
freeze – perhaps because we may be guilty. If we know to witness to our
neighbors and we don’t witness, we sin. If we know to read the Scriptures and we
don’t, we sin. If we know that we are to pray, and we don’t pray, the omission
is a sin.
The Need To Pray
Not only does the Bible teach us that prayerlessness is a sin,
but the Bible urges, encourages, and even begs us to give ourselves to prayer:
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17);” Men ought always to pray, and
not to faint” (Luke 18:1); “Pray ye, therefore the Lord of the harvest “
(Matthew 9:38). There are great promises associated with prayer: “That if two of
you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done
for them” (Matthew 18:19); “The prayer of faith shall save the sick .. the
effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much ” (James 5:15-16);
“Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be
opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).
New methods, new ways, and new programs, as helpful as they are
to the mission of the church, are not the answers to the heartbeat of God or to
the spiritual needs of the church. From where do we receive our direction to
work in the harvest field? Some of our youth do not know what is meant when we
ask, “Have you prayed through about the matter? or “Have you ever had a burden
But no person will go far with God until he gets some Bethel
experiences established in his life. Some place between here and glory all of us
are going to be buffeted by the wicked one, by the world and by the cares of
life. Every Christian needs an anchor – some place that he can go back to, some
place where he met God in prayer. The way we worship in church cannot be a
substitute for heart-searching Spirit-inspired, fervent prayer.
The preacher had preached; the convicting power of God moved
upon a man who made his way to the altar of prayer. The members gathered around
him in prayer. For a few minutes, earnest prayer filled the building. But then
the music became loud and fast – and for the next hour the organ, the drums and
a bass guitar ruled supreme. For all practical purposes, the praying ceased when
the playing began. Would it not have been better for everyone to have stayed
before God in prayer – at least until the man at the altar had time to repent
and find God?
When a person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost with the
evidence of speaking in tongues, he receives more than what a rhythm and a beat
can give him. The Spirit of God takes control of his tongue and expresses
Himself through him in a language that the receiver has not learned. But in some
cases in some churches, the seeker is pushed through to a pseudo – Pentecostal
Let us face it; the false and fake of spiritual experiences are
promoted in some religious circles. They attempt to teach people how to speak
with tongues, how to dance in the Spirit, and how to shout. But no one need to
“learn” how to do these; when the Holy Ghost comes on the inside of a person,
the expressions of the Spirit will come. We do not need the false or the fake
when we can have the genuine. We must not replace the real manifestations of the
Holy Ghost with clatter, clamor, and confusion.
The Bible tells us that we have a Partner in prayer: “Likewise
the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for
as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings
that cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The Holy Ghost is our prayer – partner!
Oh to live close enough to God that we can hear our Partner speak to us: “Son,
we ought to pray together!”.
Our Heritage Of Prayer
The Bible gives many examples of men and women who prayed and
received answers to prayer. Elijah prayed and fire fell on the sacrifice. Moses
prayed and the people of Israel were spared. Paul and Silas prayed and angels
came down to deliver them from jail. The Early Church prayed, and Peter walked
out of prison.
The Upper Room became a place of prayer and praise until the Day
of Pentecost. The roots of the church go back to this Upper Room prayer meeting,
and we need to retain both the practice of prayer and experience of the Holy
Prayerlessness Leaves the Door Open for Other Sins
Prayerlessness is a sin because not to pray leaves the door open
for all other sins. Because of this, it is the most serious of transgressions.
The disciples said to Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” He told them in
the model prayer to pray. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver from evil “
(Luke 11:4). Everyday we need to pray that God would not put temptation in our
way, but that He would deliver us from evil. Since we are still in this flesh
and therefore still subject to temptations, we ought to pray daily that God
would set Himself as a watch on our lips that we would not sin with our words,
that He would lead our feet away from slippery places, and that He would guard
our hearts from evil thoughts.
In Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciples, “Watch and pray,
that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh
is weak ” (Matthew 26:41); and “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke
22:40). John Bunyan, the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, put it this way: “Prayer
will make a man cease from sin and sin will make a man cease from prayer.”
A person will never stumble as long as he is on his knees. If
there are things overcoming a Christian, it is because of his lack of prayer.
His trouble is not with television. His trouble is not with professional sports.
His trouble is that he is committing the sin of prayerlessness. When a person
prays, these things of the world find their rightful place in his life.
The root cause of any lack in our spirituality comes from the
sin of prayerlessness. Why is the church sometimes powerless when we believe
there is great power for the church? Why does preaching often accomplish so
little? Why do we struggle so hard to win the unsaved and get so little result?
Could it be that we are neglecting our responsibility of prayer?
Prayerlessness – A Sin Against God, Others, and Ourselves
Against whom do we sin when we do not pray? Sin goes into three
brackets: We sin against God; we sin against others; and we sin against
ourselves. To take the name of the Lord God in vain is a sin against God. To
bear false witness is a sin against our neighbor. When a person covets, he sins
against his own spirit. But prayerlessness is a sin against God. It is a sin
against the neighbor, and it is a sin against ourselves.
A Sin Against God
Samuel said, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in
ceasing to pray…..” Prayerlessness is a sin against God because it hinders His
purpose and prevents Him from accomplishing the things that He wants to do.
Some things can only happen by prayer. When God told Moses
A Sin Against Others
That He would destroy the rebellious Israelites, Moses responded
with prayer for God to spare them. His prayer gave God a reason to change His
mind. The Bible makes this clear: “Therefore he said that he would destroy them,
had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath,
lest he should destroy them” (Psalm 106:23).
The Early Church gave God a reason to send an angel to deliver
Peter out of the jail. When Paul and Silas prayed, God had a reason to deliver
them from prison. Elijah’s prayer gave God a reason to stop the rain.
Not to pray is also a sin against others. Samuel put it this
way: “That I should sin …in ceasing to pray for you.” His prayer was for the
people. We live in a world filled with spiritually and morally broken men and
women. When we fall to pray for them, we sin against them. God uses our prayers
to help others.
Then we sin against ourselves: “That I should sin….” Prayer
changes things, but prayer also changes the pray-er. A man that prays will be
changed to be more like the Lord. Blessings will come upon him and to him. God
will become more a reality in his life every day as he prays. Inner strength and
renewed faith come through prayer.
To pray was Samuel’s personal decision: “Moreover as for me, God
forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray….” Samuel
determined that he was to pray.
Have you made that same decision?
Are you ready to pray?
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