Christians recognize prayer as a wonderful privilege. Through prayer the individual can speak directly to the God of creation and Ruler of the universe. An invitation to the White House or a visit with the Queen of England is trivial in comparison with the opportunity afforded those who pray. Yet many find prayer to be difficult. Distractions, uncertainty of what to say and difficulty making time for prayer make a serious habit of talking with God a challenge for many Christians. Since prayer is such a glorious privilege, why is it so difficult?
Prayer is conversing with our Heavenly Father, but prayer is also warfare. When the Christian prays he is opposed by an array of enemies who actively seek to interfere. Daniel 10 gives a glimpse into the spiritual realities of prayer. Daniel prayed and God immediately sent out an angelic messenger to answer his prayer. However, an evil spirit opposed the messenger of God and delayed the answer to Daniel’s prayer by three weeks.
Other indications of this spiritual warfare are found in the New Testament. Paul told the Thessalonians that he would have returned to them, “but Satan hindered us.” (1 Timothy 2:18) The apostle Peter describes Satan as, “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The believer’s prayers are actively opposed by the enemies of Christ. Prayer is less like a pleasant conversation between two family members and more like a lieutenant on the battle field radioing his father and commanding officer during a firefight while the enemy attempts to jam the radio signals.
The spiritual enemies of the Christian are aided and abetted by the many physical distractions of this world. The abundance of entertainment and the constant demands of instant communication make it very difficult to silence the noise outside us and practice a silent discipline like prayer. But, one simple habit can help overcome some of the distractions. Praying out loud can help keep your mind on track as you converse with God.
Sin in the person’s life will be a significant hindrance to prayer. When the believer is holding onto sin, he is not going to want to pray. Those clinging to sin are not going to desire a serious relationship with God through prayer because as the Christian draws closer to God his own sin becomes more evident. The conviction of the Holy Spirit and the realization of the need to be growing in holiness discourages some from developing a strong prayer life. Unconfessed sin makes prayer more difficult, but those who love God deeply will be willing to forsake sin so they may have unhindered converse with Him.
Prayer is an essential part of a relationship with God. Through prayer the Christian talks with his loving Father and King. A life of prayer that is serious, disciplined and faithful willnot be easy. But the privilege of prayer is worth any difficulty endured to speak directly with the God of the universe.