THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER
No conscientious Christian would deny that there are difficulties attending the activity of prayer. These difficulties hinder progress in prayer, occasion frustration, and weaken believers. The resulting deficiency becomes especially apparent when fellowship with the Lord is not maintained in a consistent and sustained manner. The Scriptures make it clear that the Christian is to be given to a life of prayer (Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; and Luke 18:7). But constancy in prayer is not always maintained. It can and will be hindered.
SOME CAUSES OF HINDRANCE IN PRAYER
Among the causes that hinder the practice of prayer are those distractions the Christian must contend with when getting before the Lord. The telephone may ring, the doorbell may sound, or someone in the house may call for attention. One may remember a task that has been overlooked that needs to be attended to. An article of interest in a newspaper or magazine may catch the eye and invite consideration. While innocuous in themselves, these things may deter and distract the Christian from doing what he knows to be his duty-engaging in the practice of prayer.
Hindrance to the practice of prayer may also come through wandering thoughts. It is not unusual for a Christian to discover, even as he engages in prayer, that his mind is quickly flooded with matters other than those about which he desires to talk to the Lord. A matter of business, a difficulty in the home, an incident that brought about some discord with a fellow believer-these, and a multitude of other matters, have the undesirable effect of diverting the mind from a definite, purposeful seeking of the Lord.
At times the exercise of prayer may be impeded by a listless spirit. There may be no satisfactory reason for the failure to pray other than that we don't feel like engaging in it. We should not be surprised by this. Prayer is a thoroughly spiritual exercise. Earnest and regular prayer is not something that the flesh wants to pursue. It will allow us to do many other worthy things so long as we do not give ourselves to heartfelt prayer.
Very often the Christian's prayer life is halted by discouragement. Because there is not the desired response from God to the petitions voiced, the petitioner loses heart, ceases to pray, and leaves aside the practice of praying.
One of the most common reasons alleged for the arrest of the practice of prayer is the "busy - ness" of the individual. The Christian complains that there is not enough time available in his hectic schedule for engaging in prayer; therefore, daily, consistent prayer ceases.
In seeking to counteract these hindrances to the practice of prayer, the Christian would do well to seek out a private place and to set a time each day when he may be apart from the distractions that surround him. A prayer list will be a great asset to him in combating wandering thoughts, and it will ensure that actual requests are brought to the Lord. As the flesh fights against the call to prayer, let the believer seek the Lord's help to mortify this carnal impulse (Romans 8:12-13).
The Christian should also remember that the Lord's delays are not denials. Think much upon the circumstances of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12:7; 17:21; Romans 4:19-21; Hebrews 11: 11). Some twenty-four years passed before there was an indication that God's word was about to be fulfilled to Abraham! Consider the Lord's teaching on prayer from Luke 18:1-8. Think also of the significance of the words spoken to Zacharias in Luke 1:13-20: God has a set time for the fulfilling of His Word.
As for the notion that the believer is too busy to pray, he must take a hard look at his daily schedule and determine to prioritise his tasks. The earnest Christian will make sure that adequate time is apportioned to the vital matter of maintaining communion with his Father in Heaven.