Swimming in blue jeans- aka Hindrances to prayer (Pt 3)

Swimming in blue jeans is very difficult. (I tried it once and thought I was going to drown). Praying while saddled with the following bondage is difficult as well.

 Pride—According to Scripture, “He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it” (Job 35:12,13).

Prayer reveals evidence of humility and vulnerability in a person’s life. To display these traits is difficult, given the self-sufficient, individualism that prevails in our society –especially for men. Many don’t want God’s help, or anyone else’s help for that matter, when facing difficulty because it demonstrates weakness.                                              

King Hezekiah, who ruled Judah from 715-686 B.C., became ill to the point of death. God answered by providing a miraculous sign. “But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’S wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:2). Fortunately, the LORD relented when the king and his people repented. Hezekiah lived and served another 15 years.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). According to Jesus, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Prayer provides a grand opportunity for us to submit ourselves before Him. Don’t let pride stop what the Spirit is leading you to do.

 Busyness—Perhaps you’re a faithful follower of Christ, who truly cares and know you need to be praying. In fact, you really want to do so, you just can’t seem to get your act together and find the time.

We hinder our prayers by putting all our effort into doing, at the expense of being. Now prevalent in even in the church, our “show me the money, end-justifies-the means” culture  typically rewards one for keeping busy for the kingdom rather than staying focused on the King.

According to the famed English preacher Charles Spurgeon, “I fear that some of us would do far more if we attempted less and prayed more about it. I even fear that some allow public religious engagements to override private communion with God.” I couldn’t agree more! We devote too much of our efforts listening to sermons, discussing in classes, and deliberating in meetings, and not enough time interceding. We sprinkle those gatherings with prayer, like we would salt on a slice of tomato, often without the intensity that should be there.

hindrances-to-prayer-part-3If, after you’ve read this book, you’ve learned a great deal more about prayer, yet aren’t spending anymore time praying, I’ve failed. Spurgeon also said:  “Praying is the end of preaching (or writing in this case), and woe to the man who, prizing the means more than the end, allows any other form of service to push his prayers into a corner.”

When Jesus came to visit in their home, Martha busied herself in the kitchen while her sister Mary sat listening at the Lord’s feet. When she complained to Jesus He replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 41,42). Make the better choice and see that prayer takes center stage in your walk with the Lord.  

 Selfishness—Chinese farmers decided generations ago that they would eat the big potatoes and use the little ones for seed. As the years went by, they learned the hard way about the laws of life. Nature soon reduced their potato crop to the size of marbles. Kingdom life operates by the same principle. You cannot keep the best for yourself and use the leftovers for seed.
Selfish people make poor prayers. They consume themselves with self, rather than God and others. Even when they do pray, it’s usually for something that satisfies a personal need. The half-brother of Jesus saw this coming 2000 years ago, penning, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

I read a story in Our Daily Bread  about a farmer whose barns were full of grain. He was holding onto his crop, waiting for a higher price before selling. Being a praying man, he was known for constantly petitioning, “Oh God, remember the poor and needy and supply their wants and needs.” Yet he never offered them any help himself.  He expected God to do it all. One day, after hearing that plea from his father, his young son said to him, “Daddy, may I have half of your corn in the barns?” The surprised dad asked, “Why my son, what would you do with all that corn?”  “I would answer your prayers,” the boy replied.

One of the reasons the government has become so heavily involved and indebted in aiding the poor is because the Christian community hasn’t gotten the job done. Giving in the American church hasn’t kept pace with our prosperity. In fact, the percentage of every philanthropic dollar given to religious (versus medical, education, arts, etc.) causes has shrunk significantly over the past several years.

The Word warns, “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria”   (Amos 6:1). Just like in the days of ancient Judah, we’ve become a nation drowning in hedonism, materialism, and narcissism. We’ve sold our soul to earthly resources, at the expense of developing eternal relationships.

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13). Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Ask God to bring to your mind someone who needs your help. Allow Him to bring about that heaven-like paradigm shift in your soul that moves you from greedy to generous, from hoarding to helpful, from self seeking to Savior seeking.

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