Here are six ways we may fail in prayer. The first failure listed is that we don’t let ourselves be exposed to many of the real needs around us.
Needs – We don’t see the real needs. One of the reasons why we fail in prayer is because our prayers are not specific enough to meet the real needs of people. It is possible that our prayers are too much for ourselves and not enough for others, too heavenly and not enough on the earth. We may pray thanking God for all the beautiful things, but we don’t have eyes to see the sin, the suffering, and all the pain on earth. Therefore, because of this neglect, we lack compassion for others and our prayers don’t carry the burden of their needs. What value then is our praying except to make ourselves feel good; but in the end we find that that is deception and vanity. If this is the case with you, I urge you to expose yourself to the real needs all over the world, and pray for those needs as God burdens your heart.
Obedience – We don’t obey God. Jesus has said to us, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (Jn. 14:21). We see from this verse that when we love God by obeying Him, He opens Himself up to us and shows us His will and what to pray. But if we don’t obey Him we prove that we don’t love Him or abide in Him, thus He gives no heed to our prayers.
Praise – We don’t give God His due adoration. When we praise God we acknowledge His presence and show great delight in who He is and in what He has done for us. Thus God’s presence is the basis of our joy and praise. Accordingly, out of our praise we receive from God the energy and the motivation to pray. But if we don’t acknowledge His presence by praising him, His Spirit will be quiet within us and we will lack the joyous energy needed to pray. Yes, without praise it is very difficult to pray.
Quiet Time – We don’t have a regular quiet time. A quiet time is the Christian’s devotional time. It is our special time to be quiet before God. It is the time when we shut out all distractions and quietly meditate on the Word. It is the time when we set our mind on things above and listen to the voice of God. Thus it is a time for unhindered prayer.
But if you don’t guard this time, if you don’t seek to be quiet before Him, the devil and the world of voices will seek to take advantage of you; hence, prayers will be nothing more than saying words to a god you cannot hear—like having a one way conversation, or worse, like talking to yourself. Don’t let this happen! Don’t let your prayers fail in this way!
Rest – We aren’t resting in His promises and believing in Him. Your prayers will surely fail if you are not resting in God’s promises, and if your mind is filled with doubts, believing one day in God and the next day not believing. That kind of person, according to James (Ja. 1:5-8), is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. And so, for that reason, James says, he will receive nothing from the Lord, for God will not give His gifts to anyone who does not trust in Him. I urge you to give your whole life to God today. Believe and rest in Him alone and He will surely answer your prayers.
Specific prayer – We don’t pray specifically. Prayers that are specific are prayers that express faith—because they express to God directly and exactly how much we need Him. This kind of prayer is real and honest and will always get God’s ear. But prayers that are general and vague lack authenticity, and are prayed without knowing God’s will. This kind of prayer is without faith and will always fail.