Asking the question if it is a sin not to pray every day is totally legitimate. Whether you are a new believer in Christ or have been walking with Jesus for a while now, we have to look into the Bible to answer this particular question.
As a general rule, it is a sin not to pray every day. Prayer is an expression of our relationship with God and Jesus tells us in Luke 21:36 to always pray so we would be able to stand before Him. Therefore, it becomes a sin to the person that doesn’t pray but knows that prayer is a good thing to do.
It gets tricky when Christians then make up all these extra rules surrounding prayer. Some say new believers should start a prayer routine of five minutes per day. Others say we have to spend one hour or more in prayer. Which one is right? Isn’t having a “relationship with Jesus” enough?
Let’s dig a little deeper into the Bible here.
Is it a sin not to pray every day?
We find the first probably most known Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “pray without ceasing”. I know of a German medical doctor who took this scripture literally and bought himself a timer reminding him to pray every 5 to 10 minutes. Extreme you think? Well, since he started praying this frequently he saw a lot of healings taking place when praying for his patients.
While this example is very extreme, there are also other Bible verses that confirm the statement of “ongoing” or “continuous” prayer. Jesus himself instructs us to always pray in Luke 21:36.
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”Luke 21:36 NKJV
That is a clear and firm statement. Any way you try to turn this verse, it’s Jesus himself saying: always pray! It is a definite statement. The context is to be prepared against sin and temptation which underlines the importance of constant prayer.
Then the apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians saying: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints“. (Ephesians 6:18)
Here it is again. Pray always! These are three Bible verses in the New Testament (under the “new” covenant) that tell us to always pray and to pray without ceasing.
Now, I can already hear people say, “Well, but it is all about the relationship with God. If you tell people they have to pray they might fall into legalism and into religion.”
It’s interesting because before going through these scriptures I’d have said the same. While there is some truth to the “relationship – legalism” aspect we do have to look at it a little closer.
When not praying becomes a sin.
Yes, prayer is about building a relationship with God. That’s the whole point of why we pray. But using this statement as an excuse to only pray when it’s convenient will let people not take it too seriously. Then they will become complacent, inconsistent, and will put it off as “well, Jesus will understand”.
Every Christian should agree that praying to God or “talking to Jesus” is a good thing to do. So, because we all know that it is a good thing to do, especially when we make prayer a personal and relational matter between God and us, it becomes a sin, if we don’t pray.
God’s Word is very clear about that in James 4:17.
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.“James 4:17 NKJV
God tells us very clearly in the Old Testament as in the New Testament to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That means with everything you are and you have. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37-40)
God wants to be number one in our lives. He gets extremely jealous when He isn’t (Exodus 20:1-3). Hasn’t He proven His love clearly through the precious sacrifice of His son Jesus on the cross?
So, why shouldn’t we “always pray without ceasing”? Yes, it is about building a relationship with God. That’s the whole purpose of prayer. Which in return makes the lack of prayer a personal issue between God and us. And that my friend is indeed called sin.
But how much prayer is “praying always without ceasing” in normal daily life?
If you need some inspiration on what to pray, I got you covered. I listed 8 Prayers from the Bible that you can use to pray for personal deliverance and healing in your life. If you are a parent and your child needs some special prayer you should check out these 7 Powerful Spiritual Warfare Prayers For Your Children.
How much do we have to pray?
As a general rule, you should pray as much as you can. There are no time limits given in the Bible, even though believers are instructed to “always pray” and “pray without ceasing”. Because prayer in essence is an expression of our relationship with God it should be a part of our daily lifestyle.
There are people who encourage new believers to start out a prayer routine of 5 minutes per day. Others say at least one hour is necessary to have a healthy spiritual walk with Christ.
I believe neither is right nor wrong. Because it is about a relationship with God, prayer shouldn’t be seen as a chore or a habit we check off at a certain time. It rather is a lifestyle we should incorporate each day with the intention to put God first and inviting Him in everything we do.
For me personally, this means starting the day with prayer and worship, Bible study, and journaling which all lasts for around 1 to 1 and a half hours each morning if possible. Obviously, sometimes life just happens. Then it is important to have prayer and talking to God already set as a lifestyle throughout your day.
That’s when prayer isn’t just a way to start your day right, but actually becomes a way of connecting with God and including Him in our daily lives.
There certainly is spiritual warfare going on in our daily prayer lives. Temptations, sins, and thoughts of guilt might bombard you all the time. I wrote a whole article about the 7 weapons God gives us to fight in spiritual warfare. You should check it out, it’s not as obvious as you think!
Will God punish me if I don’t pray?
There is no specific punishment for not praying mentioned in the Bible. Although there are obvious consequences of not praying like spiritual dryness, lukewarmness, feeling distant from God, falling into various temptations, no answers to prayer, and being separated from God.
Because God instructs us to pray in the Bible and knowing that it is the right thing to do, not praying at all will then become sin (James 4:17). Sin always separates us from God. The Bible doesn’t mention a particular punishment for not praying, but it does say, “(…) the wages of sin is death (…)” (Romans 6:23).
While there isn’t a direct punishment for not praying, God allows tangible consequences so we would come back and reach out to Him again.
Slacking on prayer will leave us spiritually dry. Satan will take advantage of this and will bombard you with all kinds of temptations. A feeling of distance to God may immerge. This might even lead to doubting the very existence of God altogether.
Also, prayers that are not prayed will probably not be answered as we can see in James 4:2b: “(…) Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
If you do pray but don’t take it too seriously be careful that you don’t become someone that the Bible describes as “lukewarm”. Not feeling the need to pray is an attitude of thinking you have what you need, even though you don’t.
The Bible states in Revelations 3:14-22 that Jesus will vomit these kinds of “believers” out because they say they are “(…) rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” People like this don’t know that they are wretched, miserable, poor, spiritually blind, and naked.
Why do we need to pray every day?
We need to pray every day because it helps Christians build a relationship with God as our father, savior, counselor, and friend. It is a way to make your needs and wishes known to God so your prayers would be answered. In addition, prayer helps with standing firm in temptations and receiving new revelations from God.
One of the main reasons we have to pray as Christians is to build a relationship with God as our Father. When Jesus taught on prayer He instructed His listeners to go to a secret place where one can have intimacy because that is where God, the Father, is. He then continues to teach us how to pray: “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. (…)” (Matthew 6:6-15)
Jesus wants us to build a relationship with God as our Father through prayer.
Here is another reason why the Bible states we should pray: So we would be able to stand against temptation. In Matthew 6:13; 26:41; Luke 21:34-36; 22:40 Jesus makes it clear that we should pray so that we may not enter into temptation.
In the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1:15-21, we can learn that we can receive divine revelation through prayer. Because prayer is not a one-person monologue but rather a dialog with God our creator, redeemer, and friend, it is one way God answers His Children to give them guidance in their life.
Lastly, we can see in Luke 18:1-8 that we ought to pray consistently to get our prayers answered. We can’t have prayers answered if we don’t even ask (James 4:2). But be careful that you don’t pray for just selfish things (James 4:3). God is not a vending machine. It’s about building the relationship with Him which ultimately is supposed to build His kingdom on earth.
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