When You Cannot Pray

cannot prayThough God freely forgives all our sins, past, present, and future, this does not mean that there are no consequences for disobeying God.

One consequence of sin is that it damages our relationship with God and our ability to take things to Him in prayer. Jonah again is a perfect example of this.

One of the curious contrasts between Jonah and the sailors in Jonah 1 is that Jonah, a prophet of God, a member of the chosen people, refuses to pray to God when his life is threatened, but the pagan, idol-worshiping sailors not only pray to their own deities, but also pray to Yahweh when they learn that it is He who sent the storm. While we could certainly chalk their prayers up to “foxhole conversions” (though I do not believe they were actually “converted”), this only amplifies the fact that Jonah himself does not pray! Everyone prays when their life is threatened, but Jonah does not.

Instead, Jonah sleeps. He sulks. He gives half-hearted answers to the desperate cries of the sailors for information.

Why? Because Jonah was in rebellion against God.

If you ever want to know if you are rebelling against God, one of the clear symptoms is your prayer life, or more specifically, the lack of prayer in your life. When we are living in disobedience to God, we can often deceive our minds into thinking that everything is okay, but we cannot deceive our spirit. Often, when we are in rebellion, prayer becomes impossible, if not nonexistent.

When we are living in disobedience, one of the hardest things to do is pray.

So if you are having trouble praying, the first prayer that can be offered is a prayer of confession and repentance. Ask God to reveal any sin that is present in your life. Ask Him to search your heart, to show if there is any wicked way in you, so that you can confess and repent of it and get back into right fellowship with Him.

This post is based on the Grace Commentary on Jonah. Make sure you sign up for the email newsletter to get a free digital copy of this commentary when it is released.

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