5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Pray (and Why They’re Wrong)

Ever feel like you don’t want to pray? How my students’ behavior changed my mind about taking my problems to God in prayer.

I open the classroom door, and the hum of conversation surprises me.

Of course! There’s an assignment due.

Students aim rapid-fire statements at me as I approach the podium.

  • “I didn’t understand #4.”
  • “It didn’t make sense to me, either.
  • “What about #7?”
  • And my favorite: “A bunch of us discussed it online last night but can’t figure out what you want.”

Stumped by the assignment, they’d expected their fellow learners to have valuable answers, but didn’t think to consult the assignment’s author.

I’m tempted to remind them that I have internet access, too; that I could have answered their questions quickly and easily; and that they could have spent the evening binge-watching Netflix instead of stalking their classmates. But I’m not sure how to phrase a non-snarky version, so I say nothing.

Am I Like My Students?

Several days later, this incident forgotten, my brain spiraled out of control like an overtired toddler on a caffeine high.

I’d begun a new project with an overflowing to-do list, and had no earthly idea which task to start next. So I did the only rational thing: I logged onto Facebook. Surely one of my friends will know what to do.

It’s true — I have brilliant friends.

But as I was about to message them, the Holy Spirit nudged me: You should pray about it.

Now, I’d like to say I’m immediately obedient to the Holy Spirit’s nudges. But alas, I‘m a work in progress.

So — as I typed a message to  my friend — the classroom scene from three days earlier came to mind.

Well played, Holy Spirit. Well played.

When I seek my friends’ guidance before I seek God’s, am I responding to life the way my students respond to a difficult assignment? Am I asking fellow learners for advice without consulting the Great Teacher?


Sometimes I’m exactly like my students when it comes to prayer.

You, too?

On occasion, it doesn’t even occur to us to ask God for help.

But often, we do realize He has the answers, we just don’t want to pray. So why don’t we go immediately to the Ultimate Source of Knowledge?

Why We Don’t Want to Pray

It turns out, we don’t approach God in prayer for the same reasons my students don’t contact me when they’re confused.

1. We think God is unapproachable.

We forget that the point of Jesus’ death was to make God accessible to all of us. We no longer need to approach Him through an intermediary human priest, as in Old Testament times; Jesus has become our mediator, and the curtain separating us from the Holy of Holies has been torn in two, giving us instant access to our Teacher and Creator.

See Hebrews 10:19-22; Hebrews 9:24; Matthew 27:51

2. We want to do it on our own (or we think it doesn’t count if we ask for help).

Sometimes we think of God as a last resort— that we should only approach Him after we’ve exhausted all other options. Perhaps we’re embarrassed because we think we should be able to solve the problem on our own. But God wants to help us, and the Bible reminds us to prayerfully approach Him about everything.

See Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13; John 16:23b-24; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:13a


3. We don’t want to look or feel foolish in front of God.

Of course, this presupposes God doesn’t already know the troubles we’re having. Or that He’ll judge us because of our ignorance. Fortunately, our Heavenly Father knows our needs and concerns long before we approach Him, and His mercy and forgiveness are abundant.

See Matthew 6:8; Luke 12:30; Matthew 6:32; James 1:5; Lamentations 3:22-23


4. We don’t want to “bother” God if we can get the information from our friends instead.

As Christians, we’re obligated to meet together and encourage one another regularly. Our friends can give us wise counsel, pray for us, and remind us that sound judgment and insight belong to Jehovah. But if our friends’ counsel is beneficial, how much more useful will it be if we approach God in prayer alongside them?

See Hebrews 10:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; Proverbs 15:22, Psalm 37:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; Proverbs 8:14; Psalm 32:8; Ecclesiastes 4:12; Matthew 18:20

5. We may not want to hear what God has to say.

Sometimes we foolishly assume we already know His response. (I’ve certainly been guilty of that.) Or sometimes we want to grumble and groan about how difficult and unfair life is instead of seeking a real solution to our problem. But God is faithful and true.

See Isaiah 55:8; Philippians 2:14; Exodus 16:8

Trust God

Being human means we don’t have all the answers. Fortunately, we can go to God in prayer.

He promises that if we trust in Him with all our heart, don’t lean on our own understanding, and acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

And just like with our earthly teachers, the more often we talk with God, the more approachable He’ll seem; then talking with Him will become second-nature.

So let’s erase these excuses from our minds and get in contact with our Heavenly Father!

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  1. Joyce Miller

    Kendra, What a great analogy between teaching and excuses for not praying. Thanks for sharing the insights God is giving you.

    • Kendra Burrows

      I’m glad you found them useful! 😉

  2. Sherrey Meyer

    Ah, Kendra! Students teaching the teacher. I’ve never taught at the level you teach, but I did a few years’ stint as a Sunday School teacher. No matter how young or old my students, I always left the classroom on Sunday and at some point in the next few days was reminded of what a student had said that brought clarity to something I pondered. However, as you said, we are truly human and to often the learned lessons don’t stick. Thank God for Jesus as our Savior and the Scripture verses you cited and for the power of prayer.

    • Kendra Burrows

      Yes!! 😉

    • Sharon

      Lightweight example/analogy re teaching. You TOTALLY avoided the tough stuff. So typical. Maybe people dont pray bc they have condiderable experience with no answers. Its hit and miss with any answers.You can pray your guts out and be utterly disappointed. Hes gonna do what Hes gonna do.My prayer isnt gonna change a damn thing.

      • Kendra Burrows

        Those are hard things for sure, Sharon. It sounds like you’ve had experience with them. I have, too. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’d love to hear more – feel free to contact me and I’ll read your message personally.


  1. The One Thing You Need to Do to Make Your Prayer Life Flourish - […] if you have difficulty praying, I suspect you think there’s a right way to pray, but you’re not sure…

Hi, I’m Kendra

I help bright, successful over-thinkers change their negative thoughts using Scripture and the science of how God made you.

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