He was telling them … that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.
They say confession is good for the soul, so I am going to try that today. The subject we are studying this week is relatively easy to teach, but I find it almost impossible to apply in my own life. The subject I am talking about is prayer.
I imagine each of you has some difficulty with prayer as well. Think over the last 30 days. Did you face a crisis that caused you concern? Did you face an uncertainty that caused you to worry? How much time did you spend praying about that issue? I am not talking about the SOS prayers we tend to shoot up to God. How much time did you spend in focused prayer about that issue you were so concerned about? All of us have difficulty making prayer a regular part of our lives.
When you think about it, our relationship with God begins with a prayer: “God, be merciful to me, the sinner. I trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior.” We start our Christian life excited about prayer, but then something happens, and our prayers fade. Why don’t we pray more?
While there are many reasons that we do not pray, I think there are three main barriers to prayer. The first barrier is complacency. We pray during crisis times in our lives, and then when the crisis passes, we forget about prayer. God said to the Israelites over and over again in the Old Testament, “You always ask Me to help you when you get into a jam, but then when I deliver you, you forget all about Me.” We do the same thing as well.
The second barrier to prayer is unconfessed sin. Sin keeps God from hearing us even after we become a Christian. The Bible is clear: God will not hear our prayers if we are actively disobeying God. God hears only the prayers of the righteous (1 Peter 3:12). Unconfessed sin not only keeps God from hearing us, but it also keeps us from wanting to talk to God.
The third barrier to prayer is disappointment with God. I imagine you can remember a time you prayed for something that God said no to. Maybe you prayed for a job that never came through or for physical healing that never happened. Deep down we build up resentment toward God, and we quit praying.
One of the things I love about God is that He understands us not just intellectually but emotionally. Every struggle we face, every disappointment–including disappointment with God–Jesus, God in the flesh, experienced as well. On the cross, He cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). Yet Jesus said, “At all times [we] ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1). We are to pray not just when the answer seems obvious and easy; we are to pray even when the answer seems impossible.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Bow The Knee” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.