The Sin of Prayerlessness
I’ll admit it. I was a little disappointed. As most of you know, we have launched a year of Prayer. We are going to spend a year learning more about prayer and, more importantly, praying! Actually praying. My hope, and prayer, is that by the end of this year, hundreds more of us will have grown in this essential area of our spiritual life.
The first Sunday we kicked this off, there was a lot of buzz. And a lot of conversation in the week following. It seemed that we were touching on something that resonated with everyone.
So when I asked last Sunday, “How many of you have joined me in taking one step forward in your prayer journey in this last week,” I really expected to see the majority of hands go up. Lots did. And I have stories to share in the weeks to come of people who have redoubled their own prayer efforts. But many, many hands did not go up.
Pastor Megan reminds me that this is a long game; that we can’t and won’t teach everything about prayer in one weekend. Particularly since you have a Senior Pastor who, by his own admission, has so far to grow and go in this area of my spiritual life. Still, I have taken concrete steps forward: pillow prayer morning and night; scripture memorization and prayer on the way to and from the newspaper tube (.6 miles away); prayer walks with my wife which, frankly, have been the most transformative experience in our prayer life… ever! And I long for others to experience what I am experiencing.
As I said, hundreds of you are joining in… but my desire is that every member and friend of this church will come to say, “I need that, too! I need to learn how to pray. God help me, I will take one step forward.”
How much is at stake? Well, if you listen to an Scottish minister named P.T. Forsyth, everything is at stake. Forsyth calls praylessness the “worst sin.” I conclude with this passage from his classic book, A Sense of the Holy. It is one of those passages that you must chew on in order to digest, but I found it both convicting and inspiring. Perhaps you will, too. And perhaps this weekend, when I ask the question, more of us will respond, “Yes! I am taking one step forward in my own prayer life.” May it be so.
“The worst sin is prayerlessness. Overt sin, or crime, or the glaring inconsistencies which often surprise us in Christian people are the effect of this, or its punishment. We are left by God for lack of seeking Him. The history of the saints shows often that their lapses were the fruit and nemesis of slackness or neglect in prayer. …Not to want to pray, then, is the sin behind sin. And it ends in not being able to pray. That is its punishment — spiritual dumbness, or at least aphasia, and starvation. We do not take our spiritual food, and so we falter, dwindle, and die.”
(“The Soul of Prayer,” in A Sense of the Holy, p. 137)