One of the biggest signs of the ongoing presence of sin in our lives is prayerlessness.
Prayerlessness says, “I don’t need to ask God to help me with my daily life.” Another way of talking about this sin of prayerlessness is in terms of pride. Pride doesn’t think it needs God’s help. Pride thinks that more will be accomplished today by skipping a time of prayer and starting to do the tasks for the day. Our prayer life, more than anything else, shows us how much pride is in control of our hearts.
One of the keys to a flourishing, daily prayer life is battling the pride that stands in the way of it. You have to fight to embrace your childlike identity by fighting pride with the words of Jesus, who said, “for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Daily prayer happens when we see through the delusions of pride that say we don’t need to ask God for help.
Others show that they struggle to embrace their childlike identity by believing that they need to use a sophisticated strategy to talk to God in prayer. But God doesn’t want us to look at prayer like that. No decent parent makes their kids speak to them perfectly for them to hear and help. When you think you must have a perfect presentation, or even a perfect “record” for the day, for your heavenly Father to hear your prayers, you show you don’t understand the greatness of his love and grace. Normal parents don’t stop taking care of their kids, wanting to do what’s best for their kids, when they aren’t asking or living perfectly. Why would we think God would do less than that?
We, of course, can overreact and think that our lives don’t matter at all. If a child is consciously rejecting the parents’ clear instructions, parents understand that if they don’t address the problem, they are enabling and training the child to do the wrong thing. That’s what Jesus’ half-brother James was talking about when he told Christians that they weren’t receiving answers to prayer, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Part of embracing a childlike identity is taking seriously the command to do your heavenly Father’s will.
Will you be perfect? Nope. Jesus knows you’re not perfect, that’s why he came to save you. But his grace doesn’t just change your standing before him; when it is received by faith, it changes the direction of your life. While complete change won’t be likely today, genuine change will.
That’s why Jesus wants his listeners to embrace their childlike identity. If you want to learn to pray, you need to remember who you are. You’re God’s child, so this daily act that leads to daily prayer marked by boldness is for problems and plans that are big and small. When you truly see who God is as your heavenly Father and who you are as his child, no request is too small for him to hear and help.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.James 4:3