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 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 messaged 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.
On occasion, it doesn’t even occur to us to ask God for help. But often, we do realize He has the answers. 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.
2. We want to do it on our own, or we think it doesn’t count if we ask God for help.
Sometimes we think God is a last resort, that we should approach Him only after we’ve exhausted all other options. Perhaps we’re embarrassed to ask Him for help, because we feel 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.
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. Besides, 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.
Perhaps we foolishly assume we already know His response. Or sometimes we want to grumble and groan about how difficult and unfair life is instead of seeking a real solution to our problem .
Being human means we don’t have all the answers. But 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!
Not sure how to pray? I’ll cover that topic next week. (Sign up below to get an email when that post is ready!)