What Hinders Prayer
Fair warning~this will be a long post, but it is one that I feel is so important and needs to be addressed.
Please bare with me…
*My mind has been ruminating on the words I wrote last week. The little things that God kept nudging me about.
Why did my prayer life feel so hindered again today?
My mind seemed to be everywhere, except on the words I longed to speak to my Savior. Everything kept it wandering, from what I needed to do that day to my grumbling stomach~ and even my grocery list.
And I pondered.
Why was I so easily distracted?
Along with that, my ladies Bible study was on the topic of pride for two weeks in a row. Then the preacher (aka my husband) touched on it in his message. The verse of the day warned against it and I knew God was obviously trying to show me something.
I searched deep within my heart. I truly did not feel I had a pride issue, (even though I now realize how prideful that sounds) and yet God continued to bring it up. I almost argued with Him. I know everything I have comes from Him. I am nothing. The words I pen are not my own, they are His. In my humanness I was searching for pride issues in the wrong areas. But still He nudged, so I continued to ask Him to please show me.
Today He did. My eyes were opened to something I never even realized.
Despite my arguments, I knew I had pride issues. And I repented.
I cannot tell you the amount of times in my 56 years that I have “felt” as if God was silent. Times where prayer seemed like a struggle or like my words were just bouncing off the ceiling. The closeness with Jesus was not there. Yet, every single time God was there. He was not far away, despite my feelings. He always made this known to me~sometimes He showed me the reasons in big ways, and sometimes He showed me in the tiniest ways.
Today I give you some of those reasons to ponder. Things God has revealed to my own heart in times like these.
The first and most important reason we may feel as if God is far away~
We aren’t truly His child. This isn’t a “religion” thing. This isn’t a “come to my church” thing or become my “denomination” thing. This is God and His words. We are NOT all God’s children. (John 1:12) The world might like to repeat that feel good phrase, but it is not true. God in His word tells us that the ONLY way we become God’s children is through His Son Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. (John 14:6) No religion and no amount of confessionals can get you to heaven. No good works can help you gain favor in God’s eyes and no amount of repetitive prayers can magically turn you into His child. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Only Jesus. Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins through grace. The end. This is the absolute most important thing you can ever do. If you cannot recall a time in your life when your heart truly believed this and you asked Jesus to forgive you of all your sins and to save your soul (Romans 10:10-13), please friend~ get that settled today. Become God’s child.
The second thing that hinders prayer is unconfessed sin. (Psalm 66:18) When we become God’s child we don’t automatically stop sinning. We are human. Whether it is intentional or something we don’t even realize, we will fall short because we aren’t perfect. (Romans 3:23) Only God is perfect. Because of this, it is important to always check our hearts and make sure we aren’t holding on to something that needs our repentance. Just like my pride. Ask God to show you. Believe me, He will. And once He does, tell Him you’re sorry. (1 John 1:5-10)
I cannot emphasize this next one enough. DON’T. GIVE. UP. Too often when it comes to our prayer life, we give up too quickly. If we don’t feel close to God or our prayers aren’t answered in a timely fashion, we just stop praying. (James 4:8) Don’t allow this to be the case. Keep on praying and don’t stop. Even if you feel like you are talking to a wall. You aren’t my friend. God is right there. There are a myriad of reasons you might feel this way, so don’t give up until you get a hold of God and He breaks through the walls that are hindering your prayer life.
And speaking of reasons why we “feel” this way is exactly that. Our feelings. Too often we base our prayers on the way we feel. Sometimes we need to look at it like marriage. I mean, let’s be honest~ I don’t always “feel” like being married. I don’t always “feel” like talking to Mike and let me share a little secret with you~ I don’t always “feel” like listening to him talk to me. Does that mean we are no longer married or that I no longer love him? No. It’s the same with our prayer life. We can’t base it on our feelings because we are sinful, wretched humans with crazy, sometimes erratic feelings. But, praise God we are loved and forgiven humans. Humans that God has unlimited grace, understanding and mercy on. (Hebrews 4:15) From the time we become His child, we forever remain His child (John 10:28, Jeremiah 31:3, 1 John 3:1) and He forever remains our daddy who never, ever leaves us no matter how we might “feel”.
So what do we do when our feelings do get in the way? When we don’t feel that closeness despite our persistence in prayer? We dig deep into God’s word. The Bible is literally God’s love letter to us. (Psalm 1:2, 104:34, 119: 48, 97, 99, Joshua 1:8) I can guarantee you that if you take the time to sit and read His words of promise, comfort, peace and love~your heart will change. (Matthew 6:21)Your prayers will have the solid rock to be built upon.(Matthew 7:24-27, 16:18, Psalm 18:2, 61:2, 2 Samuel 22:2-3) A strong foundation instead of weak feelings. Don’t trust your feelings. They lie. Trust God’s word. (Proverbs 3:5-6) God will always show you something new in His word to help you, if you stay consistent in the asking and don’t give up. I can’t even count the number of times His word spoke directly to my heart. It felt like my eyes were opened. Almost as if I was seeing something for the first time and a heavy weight was lifted. Giving everything to God is so freeing. The more you read, the more you get to know Him and the closer to Him you become. And you love Him. You suddenly realize He isn’t a far away God up in heaven somewhere but is as near to you as your very heart. Always with you. Lean in to Him. He never left. Our feelings just got in our way.
And last, why does my mind wander so much? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one of two things. I’m either anxious and worried, so my thoughts continually stray to the things I’m worried about. If that’s the case then I’m probably not trusting Christ with the situation and having faith that He will come through for me. Instead, I’m trying to figure out how I can fix it somehow on my own. And the second reason is simply because I’m a spoiled, unthankful child living in a generation full of other spoiled, unthankful children. I don’t have to beg God for my safety from another country bombing my town. I don’t have to beg for food or shelter. I don’t have to hide in order to read my Bible. Instead of being heavenly minded, I sit in my warm bed with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, an iPhone on my night stand and a bible on my lap. And my mind wanders to earthly things. (Matthew 6:21, James 4:2-3) Funny how our prayer life can change drastically when heart ache hits close to home. Our minds don’t tend to wander when we’re on our knees before God begging for His help. If we would just remain faithful in every season and learn to be thankful in remembering the thousands upon thousands of ways God has blessed us, our minds would be on Christ and not everything else. Too often we simply take Christ for granted.
If you search your heart and none of these areas seem to be an issue for you then I encourage you to hearken back to my words from last week’s post. Perhaps through it all your Savior just wants you to stop and to be still in His presence, until His presence is fully known and you realize all you ever needed was Him.
I realize this post may have stepped on a few toes. Truthfully, my toes needed stepping on. Prayer should never be ritualistic. It shouldn’t be about what we get or don’t get. It should be about spending time with our closest friend. Laughing with Him, crying with Him and being still with Him.
Just like every other area of our life~
It should be all about Him because He is everything to us.