Are You Afraid to Pray?

Afraid of Prayer

Prayer Power
Are You Afraid of the Power?

Are You Afraid to Pray? A Kentucky congregation attending worship service, watched as an irate father quickly exited the service with an especially verbal and boisterous child slung under arm. No one in the congregation appeared to so much as raise their eyebrow, until the child captured everyone’s attention by crying out in his dripping charming Southern accent, ”Ya’ll pray for me now!” This humorous story shows clearly that this young man was not afraid to ask for prayer. In his eyes, he was in a desperate situation that called for immediate and active prayer.

Too many times, we hold prayer back until we are desperate. It becomes our last resort, when the results of our own doing have failed. What is it that makes us afraid to pray, first? We know that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us. (1 John 1:9) But often times we hold back, trying to ”fix” our own issues. Perhaps, we feel that God is too busy for insignificant prayers and prayer should be saved for bigger issues, like the health of a child or loved one. Maybe we have heard the phrase, ”God helps those who help themselves”. However, this phrase is often misquoted as scripture and is not found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the phrase is credited to the Greek storyteller, Aesop and later to, Benjamin Franklin. The phrase is often a favorite with pickpockets and shoplifters, so not exactly a good mantra to follow.  You can take the phrase and turn it, as Rick Warren says, into ”God will help those who turn to Him”. The point is that helping yourself is not what should come first, as thinking that God will rush in to your aid only after your first exerted effort, is simply incorrect belief. So what exactly makes us afraid to pray before we take action?

A man took his small son with him to town, one Saturday, to run some errands. When lunch time arrived, the two of them went to the local diner for a sandwich. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and the boy crawled up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch and when the waitress brought the food, the father said, ”Son, we’ll just have a silent prayer”. Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but the boy just sat with his head bowed, for an unusually long time. When the boy finally looked up, his father asked him, ”What in the world were you praying about all that time?” With the innocence and honesty of a child, the boy replied, ”How do I know? It was a silent prayer.” Are our prayers sometimes so silent, that even we cannot hear them? Are we afraid of what others will think?

Communing with God, through prayer is the most powerful resource we have on earth. Yet often, we use it last, whether we are afraid that it will not work, our issues are not worthy, or even if we are afraid of what others might think of us. The Bible however, clearly tells us that prayer, when we are ”right” with God, meaning our hearts and relationship are with God through our faith; that prayer is a powerful tool for us to use in our life. It is also one that we should share with others.

Our focus verse this week is about the power of sincere prayer. Prayer is how we talk to God. He wants and expects us to have a relationship with Him, and communication is not only important, but it is a requirement in the building of any relationship. Prayer is simply communication with God through talking, and it is this communication, which helps us live, our lives in peace and additionally it can produce spectacular, miraculous results.

Prayer is not only necessary for a relationship with God; it is the first thing we should do when issues, decisions, or problems arise. Prayer is more though than results, and it should include thanksgiving and listening, just like any relationship we may have with others. The power of prayer should dispel the fear and make us no longer afraid to use it. Prayer is the key communication tool in our relationship with God.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results, James 5:16b (NLT)

Pray First and Make Fear Disappear

Have you ever met that person who wore their faith “on their sleeve”? The person, who very naturally seemed to have the gospel flow, from within some special place inside themselves? You can bet that person uses prayer continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Prayer works hand in hand, with faith. Do you deny your faith because you are afraid?  Do you deny prayer because you are afraid that it will not work for any multitude of reasons? How many times have you heard someone say they have tried everything, so all they can do now, is pray? When your attitude of prayer is one of last resort, can you really expect that the results will be in your favor?

Solutions to problems should first be solved with prayer and then actions. When you reverse these steps, problems often exacerbate. Being afraid is what usually prompts this role or reversing of the action. This was Sam’s problem. Sam, a ten-year old boy, found himself in the garage, one boring, rainy, Saturday afternoon. He began to seek something to entertain himself, as he looked over the items on his father’s workbench. There on the corner, sat some wood and a can of beautiful, bright, purple spray paint. Sam’s brain went into overdrive, as he imagined all the things he could make, with these wonderful items, and so upon settling on an idea; he set off to work. He worked most of the afternoon and the result was the most horribly built bird house one can imagine, coated in bright, purple, spray paint.

As Sam proudly reviewed his afternoon’s work, he noted the mess he had made, and then realized in addition to the mess, he had created a terrific mistake. For when he used the purple spray paint, he unknowingly over sprayed and the left side of his father’s car, now sat with a purple streak down the side. Sam became afraid of what his father’s reaction might be. And instead of admitting his mistake, and seeking his father’s help first, he decided to solve the problem himself. He set off to work cleaning up the garage and then tackled the paint on the car door. He first, decided to wash it using soap and water, but quickly saw that the paint still remained on the door. He thought he needed something more powerful, and so he then began to look for different cleaners in the garage that might help remove the paint. He tried a number of detergents that made great claims of dirt and grime removal, but yet the purple paint still clearly remained firmly adhered in a streak on his father’s door. In a last desperation, Sam spied a pad of steel wool. He quickly put the power of his small muscles to work, and was beyond thrilled to see that the bright purple paint came right off. Unfortunately, the steel wool also had side effects, for as it did remove the purple paint, it left behind a multitude of very noticeable scratches on the door’s surface, which cut into the original paint on the car. Sam could not fix this result and so with no other options and his head hung low, he finally went to tell his father what had occurred.

As his father silently listened to Sam’s confession and then went out to check the final results, he turned to his son and simply asked, ”Why didn’t you come and tell me your problem first? Why come to me now, when all is lost and the problem is worse? I cannot help you solve the problem now; I can only help you get through it.” All Sam could say was that he was afraid.

Are you afraid to pray to God first? Do you wait until all is lost, the options appear exhausted, and there seems nowhere else to turn? Too often, more faith is seen in seeking help from ourselves or others, before God. God may not remove the purple paint from your life, but He may put the right people in your path to help solve your problems, if you come to Him first. The results you pray for, may not automatically appear, but the prayer should not cease, for if you talk to God about everything all the time, you build a relationship, a relationship that even when the results are not your will, the peace of faith will still your heart and enable you to be comforted in moving forward. Be challenged to pray first and motivated in knowing that prayer is the most powerful resource you have on this earth. Do not be afraid to use prayer as your first line of defense, for in the words of John Bunyon,

You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

Love in Christ,

E.J.

Post Script

When we pray, remember that it is:

  1. The love of God that wants the best for us.

  2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.

  3. The power of God that can accomplish it.

William Barclay

Extra Study

1 Thessalonians 5:17, Hebrews 9:14, 1 John 1:9

Credits: 

Kentucky boy - Jean McMahon, Reader's Digest, April 1980. 

Father and son silent prayer story - Our Daily Bread 

When we pray”¦ - William Barclay, Prodigals and Those Who Love.

What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion

Are you afraid to pray first, before you move into action? Is a time issue holding you back from prayer, because you want to see the immediate results of action?  Do you fear the results of prayer or the lack of help from God? Do you find it difficult to talk to a God you cannot see? Join us in discussion on the difficulties of using prayer first and actions second.

How God is working through your life?