Prayer is an integral part of the Christian life. Many Christians, though, struggle in their prayer lives. This lack of prayer causes all sorts of issues including a lack of prayer over temptation. Prayer at its core is how believers commune with God. A lack of prayer indicates a lack of trust in the Lord. How can a disciple of Jesus grow in their prayer life? This question is what John Onwuchekwa answers in his new book in the 9Marks Questions series, What If I Don’t Desire to Pray? (Crossway, 2020).
In the book, Onwuchekwa discusses the fact that prayerlessness stems from a lack of trust in the Lord, which is ultimately a form of pride. He compares growth in one’s prayer life to a flu vaccination. Unlike a vaccine such as the chickenpox, which is only administered once, the flu vaccine is administered year after year to ward against different strains of the virus. Many believers feel that they can obtain a good prayer life once and be good for the rest of their lives. However, a disciplined prayer life must be worked out daily. His point is well taken and I find the analogy extremely helpful as it reflects the trust of the struggle with prayer in many followers of Christ.
The remedy for lack of prayer, however, is not found in oneself, but it is found in the gospel. Onwuchekwa points the reader back to the beauty of the gospel as the source of inspiration for prayer. If the Lord rescued his people from sin and death through the death and resurrection of Jesus, why would his people not want to pray? Daily reflecting on the beauty of Christ should drive the believer to prayer.
Onwuchekwa’s writing style is pastoral in nature. He seeks to lovingly encourage the reader and not weigh the reader down with legalistic demands. Prayer is an aspect of the Christian life that is both deeply personal, but also communal. One great way to grow in prayer is to pray with other believers. This fosters mutual encouragement and accountability. Prayer is a lifelong communal aspect of Christian discipleship. There are not “six easy steps to a better prayer life.” One day prayer will not be necessary because the saints will stand face to face with Jesus. Until then, prayer must be practiced and perfected in all believers.
What If I Don’t Desire to Pray? is an excellent resource for Christian discipleship. Onwuchekwa does an excellent job of packing a ton of information into a small space on the importance of prayer. I would recommend this resource to church leaders who are looking for a way to lead their church toward growth in prayer in the life of their congregation.