In the last post the lack of willingness to pray was addressed. In this, an acknowledgment of the obstructions to prayer.
The act of prayer is the exercise of the spiritual life, or the “man of the spirit”. Once we are children of God it would seem that praying would come easy, but what is it that stands in our way? As in all spiritual growth, the three enemies are the same: The flesh, that is ourselves in selfish desire to indulge our own will and do things through our own power; The world , the many distractions around us and the wisdom that says physical work is more important than the solitary and quiet time spent in prayer; The devil, the spiritual being who opposes God and all things that destroy his own nefarious plans.
The Arguments of the Flesh
When we give in to our determination that our schedule, or our leisure time is first priority we are going to find the time left for prayer to be squeezed into the small allotments of time hurriedly rushed through. Instead of placing our relationship with God foremost… it is relegated, despite our best intentions, and promises into the back rooms and leftover parts of our day. We feel farther away, and awkward in our time of prayer. It nags at us, but we aren’t sure of it’s real importance after awhile ( although we won’t say so in so many words).
The Wisdom of the World
The world displaces prayer when we become convinced that other things are of higher priority. These might be “Good” they may seem “spiritual”, but they are of the world, and not the wisdom of Christ, in the end. Running around to many meetings, taking care of an endless stream of obligations, making sure our social needs and demands are all met… al of them except an appointment to meet with the Lord. Taking ten points, or following four methods, or meeting our top three priorities, somehow we have a plan for everything except how to actually sit down to pray. Running in circles, worrying about keeping up our image, and maintaining our important and hard won promotions… all these are what the world applauds, not time on your knees that no one knows about or can quantify in their assessment of your productiveness and success.
The Devil in the Details
There are times you must recognize that the blockades and discouragements have a demonic spiritual source. this can take more guises then can be told, but the one way to uncover it is to persevere in the face of self-condemnation and be firm to not allow hindrances to overwhelm your prayer time. Banding together with others who pray builds the strong cord that resists the stumbling blocks of evil.
How To Overcome
- As Jesus did, use the Word. Arm yourself with pertinent verse from the Bible which encourage you, and keep your eyes on the right track
- Don’t worry about the small distractions of your mind at first, they are just the normal chaos of the mind settling into place. Consider following the Our Father prayer as a guide to keep your prayer coming back into focus
- Don’t feel guilty, feel glad that God loves you and that you can bring your petitions to Him
- Remember that God so loved you He gave His Son for you… He loves you, He loves your prayers
- Remember that persevering prayer is overcoming prayer, and you will receive answers because God promises to answer. Don’t worry how it works or the way that God makes decisions, trust Him and ask
- Pray in different ways: singing to the Lord, petitioning, praising, seeking forgiveness and forgiving, use quiet time and use music… allow your relationship with God to grow
- Use specific times and methods to give your prayer life consistency