Every Christian is called to pray. Every minister is called to pray. And yet many of us struggle to pray consistent and heartfelt prayers to the Lord. Norwegian preacher Ole Hallesby wrote in 1931 about the costly results of an impaired prayer life, and the wise will take his words to heart and ask for the Lord’s help in prayer.
Children of God can grieve Jesus in no worse way than to neglect prayer. For by so doing they sever the connection between themselves and the Savior, and their inner life is doomed to be withered and crippled, as is the case with most of us…
The result is that we go about at home and in the assembly of believers like spiritual cripples or dwarfs, spiritually starved and emaciated, with scarcely enough strength to stand on our own feet, not to speak of fighting against sin and serving the Lord… This neglect is the cause of my many other sins of commission as well as of commission…
The more of an effort prayer becomes, the more easily it is neglected. Results which are fatal to spiritual life follow, not immediately, but no less certainly. First, our minds become worldly, and we feel more and more alienated from God, and therefore have less and less about which to speak with Him. Then we develop an unwilling spirit, which always finds pretexts for not praying and excuses for having neglected prayer.
Our inner life begins to weaken. The pain of living in sin is not felt as keenly as before, because sin is no longer honestly confessed before God. As a result of this, again, our spiritual vision becomes blurred, and we can no longer distinguish clearly between that which is sin and that which is not. From now on we resist sin in essentially the same way as worldly people do. They struggle against those sins only which are exceedingly dangerous from the standpoint of their consequences.
But such people have no desire to lose their reputation as Christians. For this reason they try to hide the worldliness of their minds as long as possible. In conversation, as well as in the prayer meeting, they are tempted to use language which is not in harmony with their inner selves. Empty words and affectation now seek to strangle what little prayer life is left in their hearts.
All this and a great deal more is the result of an impaired prayer life. And this is just what has taken place in the lives of many believers.
Maybe Hallesby’s words convict you as they do me. My gut reaction in receiving such conviction is to try harder—make up for time I’ve lost and do it in my own strength. This approach doesn’t lead to lasting change or deepen my joy in the Lord.
What does motivate me and deepen joy is taking the focus off of myself and putting it on God, His glory, and His gracious invitation to us in Christ. In Christ, we are His beloved children. In Christ, we have a Father who has an open ear and willing heart to hear our prayers and anxious thoughts (1 Peter 5:7). He knows our failures and weaknesses and wants to be our strength and Provider. Fix your eyes on Him.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 ESV)
 Excerpts taken from pages 38–41 of Ole Hallesby’s Prayer.