Being busy is often the excuse we use to put off praying. We say when life slows down we’ll start back up. Here’s the thing though, life rarely slows down. When one commitment ends, a new one begins and you eventually realize you’ve stopped praying indefinitely.
The question becomes what happens if you stop praying?
When we stop praying we break the first commandment and become less connected to God and we’re likely to fall into sinful vices. You will stop being the best version of yourself, may become cynical, make poor decisions, and find yourself lacking purpose. You will become stagnant in your faith, anxious, and stop being grateful.
Many things will probably happen when you stop praying. When you stop keeping that constant connection with God you fall into sin. Your priorities become disordered and instead of walking the path to heaven, you find yourself on a downward spiral.
If we know all of this then why do we stop praying in the first place? After years of reflection, I’ve boiled it down to this: prayer is intangible.
If I don’t do the laundry we won’t have clean clothes to wear. If I don’t go grocery shopping we won’t have food to eat. If I don’t go to my son’s baseball game, he might feel unsupported or unloved by his family. If I don’t finish a project for work I see the tangible repercussions of that.
However, if I don’t pray “nothing” happens. We all know something happens. Our lives become haywire, but really there’s nothing tangible that happens right away.
I’m the first to admit my prayer life is far from perfect. I don’t sit down every day to pray with my Bible each day even though I know it’s the best use of my time. It truly pains me to say that, but I want to be transparent and open that even though I’m a Christian blog writer, I don’t have it all together all the time.
Here are a couple of stories about what happened in my life when I stopped praying:
- My senior year of college I fell away from my prayer routine. I attend Mass on Sunday, but lost that daily connection with God. I started going to a lot of parties, getting drunk regularly, dressing immodestly, and having more frequent inappropriate thoughts.
- My daughter has been waking up 2-4 times a night to breastfeed. I’ve been an exhausted mom and I’ve used it as an excuse not to pray. I’ve become overly anxious and worried about things unnecessarily. My temper is short and I find myself speaking harshly to my husband and children more often.
The bottom line is that I forgot the importance of the words from Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul, He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23: 1-4, NIV).
When we stop praying we become greedy, anxious, and fearful, among many other things! Here is a list of things that might happen if you stop praying. Please leave prayer requests in the comments so we can pray with you if you or someone you love is struggling with prayer.
1. Sin: Breaking The First Commandment
While not praying isn’t necessarily a sin, you are probably breaking the first commandment.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3, NIV).
Having other gods doesn’t always mean that you are physically worshipping someone else. Your false gods might be your phone, football, television, or working out. If you don’t have time to pray you are probably spending too much time doing something else that is less edifying.
Furthermore, if you aren’t connected with God you are more likely to fall into sinful vices. The 7 deadly sins are pride, greed, anger, envy, gluttony, lust, and sloth. When I stop praying I find myself getting really greedy. I tend to get the “gimmes” and shop more.
Often times I find myself buying things only to find myself losing the initial excitement of the new item and wanting something else shortly after. I’m trying to fill the void that God brings into my life with physical items. It’s a recipe for disaster!
2. Lack Of Purpose
Our deepest identity is as a child of God.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,” (Galatians 3:26, NIV).
When you stop praying you can forget about this identity. You start defining yourself by your profession, your accomplishments, or how much you get done each day.
I’ve found that when I stop praying depression easily sets in for me. I have mild anxiety and depression and if I’m not staying connected with the Lord I have a lack of drive for things I usually enjoy or even have trouble just accomplishing basic chores.
3. Poor Decisions
When you aren’t keeping that connection with God your decisions are based on your own feelings. That can send us down a dark path. You end up doing whatever you want whenever you want. This might feel good at the moment, but sooner or later you will probably find yourself feeling unfulfilled and/or lost.
4. Become Cynical
The world is in a state of disarray right now. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of what the news reporters are telling us if we aren’t focusing on God. There are terrible and hard things going on in this world.
Although you may not be faced with things like world hunger or abortion, you are probably faced with your own inconveniences and problems each day. The Lord gives you the strength to accomplish your tasks. Without Him, you can become cynical and drown out the goodness of the Lord that appears each day.
5. Stagnant In Faith
If you aren’t praying you’re not growing. Jesus told us in the Scriptures to:
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
It’s our mission to build up the Kingdom of God. If you aren’t praying you lose the passion and zeal for the Lord to accomplish this mission.
6. Anxiety Creeps In
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).
The Lord gives us a deep and abiding peace that no one and nothing else can provide. His will is our peace. If we aren’t reassured by the Lord then we become anxious about unnecessary things.
7. Getting Advice From The Wrong People
You start talking to friends or family about your problems who might not have the best of intentions.
The Scriptures tell us:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV).
If you are not seeking wisdom from God you might be seeking wisdom from people who aren’t Christians and who don’t have God’s perspective in mind. This might lead you to conforming to the patterns and social norms of the world instead of doing what God is calling you to do.
8. You Forget To Be Grateful
You can become focused on all your problems and forget the good things that are happening in your life. Just today I woke up frustrated that my 1-year-old was up twice last night. I didn’t have my prayer time this morning and was negative and frustrated instead of focusing on the fact that my four-year-old told me I was a really great mom before bed last night.
Always remember these words from Scripture:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, NIV).
When you stop praying you forget that the Lord gives us everything. You start thinking that everything comes from your own merits. Your heart can become hard instead of open. Always remember to start each day with a grateful heart to God!
If you’re feeling too busy to pray remember these words from St. Francis de Sales, “Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour.”
When you are most busy you need more help to carry your burdens. Try to fight the urge that you can’t pray today. The Lord will multiply your time. It is time that you will truly never regret it. You will only regret not praying!
If you want to be the person God has called you to be then you must keep a constant connection with Him. Remember what could happen if you stop praying to help you and give you motivation as well!