Prayerlessness Springs From Pride

Pride is a sneaky, pervasive, elemental sin.

Pride gives birth to many sins and obstructs many godly pursuits. In this article, we’ll consider the ways our pride disrupts our prayer life.

ACTS of Prayer

When we are proud, we feel we are enough. And when we feel we are enough, we don’t think we need God. I read the phrase “prayerlessness springs from pride” earlier this year in a fine Michael Reeves book, and it struck me as profoundly true.

In my early days as a Christian I learned the ACTS acronym to help me pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Pride interrupts each of these aspects of prayer.

Adoration

When we think too highly of ourselves, we tend not to think highly of others. With inflated perspectives on our abilities and importance, we don’t notice the skills or positions of others. And this includes the way we think of God.

When we are filled with pride, God’s perfections, his power, his goodness, and his immortality are far from our minds. Our self-exaltation crowds out the acknowledgment of God’s rightful place on the throne.

Confession

If we focus on our goodness and rightness, we are not as aware of God’s laws or our transgressions. As pride increases, conviction decreases, and we slide further down the road that sin paves.

We may mention—either in private prayer or during corporate worship—familiar, long-standing sins. But this is usually done out of habit, half-heartedly, not out of a sense of offending a holy God.

Thanksgiving

When we are consumed with our achievements and convinced of our worth and talent, we don’t think much about what we receive from the Lord.

If we see everything good in our lives as something earned—instead of as a gift—we won’t return much thanks to God.

Supplication

A proud person is not in touch with their poverty and powerlessness, so they are not aware of just how much they need from the Lord. Jesus commends prayer for daily bread, even for those with a full pantry.

We need the Lord’s sustaining grace in both the physical and spiritual realms. We need God’s loving, fatherly discipline; we need his wisdom; we need his protection. And yet, pride blinds us from these needs and blocks us from asking.

Fighting Through Pride to Pray

I’ve often attributed my prayerlessness to busyness. But saints through the years have seen that for the lie it is. Martin Luther famously said that he was so busy the following day he’d need to devote even more time (three hours!) to prayer.

I think Michael Reeves is right—our lack of prayer burbles up from the spring of a proud heart. This means that one of the ways we protect and cultivate a rich prayer life is to battle against our pride.

This article doesn’t have the space for a full strategy to war against pride, but here’s one tactic that has helped me: Read and memorize God-exalting parts of the Bible.

When we fall into pride we start to believe we are independent, that we can function just fine without God or anyone else. This is, of course, a flagrant and laughable lie. But it is a lie our flesh loves, so we need to read and absorb the truth. God is the only independent being in the universe, and we (along with all creation) are completely dependent on him. There are many good places in Scripture to turn for this help, but I find myself returning to Job 38–41.

Prayer as a Weather-vane

If your prayer life is evaporating, pride may be the reason. The specific ways we drift from God can serve as weather-vanes, pointing to the ill winds blowing through our hearts.

This may sound like an article full of bad news. Identifying sin is painful and embarrassing, and repenting of sin is terribly difficult. But if you are in Christ, there is always, always good news.

The fact that you are aware of this pride in your life is not a sign of God’s anger toward you. Just the opposite! It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). If God shows you pride in your heart, it is a sign of his love for and commitment to you.

So don’t stay away from your Heavenly Father. Embrace your dependence on him, turn away from your pride, and pray.

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Links for the Weekend (10/16/2020)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

For the Heart that is Overwhelmed

With all that is going on in our country, are you feeling overwhelmed? Christina Fox has a good reminder for you.

The truth is God doesn’t call us to depend upon ourselves; he calls us to trust in him to provide what we need to live for him. He gives us just what we need for each day and promises to be there on the next to provide for us again. And he is not stingy with his grace, for as John wrote “he gives us grace upon grace” (John 1:16). God doesn’t tell us what tomorrow brings; rather, he calls us to follow after him, trusting he will lead and guide us.

The Absurdity of Pride

We may acknowledge that pride is at the root of many of our sins, but have we seen how ridiculous it is? Pride goes against every part of our created design, and yet sometimes we just cannot put it away.

As followers of Jesus, we have insight into how our pride is out of place and odd. Human beings are the crown of creation but it is because God made it so. From that high place, we take our cues from our King who gave up his rights, knowing that his place with the Father was secure. So we put on humility which, in contrast to pride, turns out to be wonderfully human—quite attractive and surprisingly powerful.

Christians, Diversity is Not a Bad Word

Like many good words, “diversity” can be twisted and used in a distorted way. But, Amy Medina cautions, let’s not get rid of something beautiful because some misuse it!

The question should be Why wouldn’t you want diversity? Living in an international community has indescribably enriched my life. Hearing the stories of those from diverse backgrounds has broadened my perspective, opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world. These friends have given me more understanding, more compassion, more wisdom. They have challenged and stretched my faith, forcing me to cut away the chaff and focus my vision on the treasure that is Christ alone.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here.