The Death of Prayer


The Untimely Death of a Prayer Life

The death of a prayer life starts long before we recognize it. We’re still praying.  Spending our few minutes a day, maintaining our routine.  But its form over substance.  There is a coldness to it, a boredom, a monotony, rather than the Spirit filled time we used to enjoy.

The 19th Century preacher Octavius Winslow has some questions you can use to diagnose your prayer life:

Real prayer is the breathing of God’s own Spirit in the heart; have you this? It is communion and fellowship with God; know you what this is? It is brokenness, contrition, confession, and that often springing from an overwhelming sense of his goodness and his love shed abroad in the heart; is this your experience?

There’s a progression to declining prayer:

  1. our private prayer time goes
  2. then our “walking around” prayers- the spontaneous prayers we offer God
  3. next is family prayer (say goodbye to family study and praying at meals)
  4. and finally social prayer- with other Christians

What you exchange for prayer: The absence of prayer does not leave a vacuum. Something else fills it.  Humility, dependance on God and desperation to share the gospel gets exchanged for self-reliance, judgmental-ness, and a lack of interest in increasing the Kingdom of God.

Winslow chronicles the final result: 

Satan, the subtle and sleepless foe of the soul, is prepared with a thousand enticements to smooth the downward path; the world appears with some new attraction; sin tastes less bitter, and appears less “exceeding sinful”; objects of sense become familiar, are looked at, admired, then embraced: and now the soul, but for preserving and restraining grace, has taken a farewell forever of God.


Author: Blake D.

Associate Pastor at Cedar Run Community Church.

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