Overcoming Obstacles to Effective Prayer

Roadblocks to Prayer

Roadblocks to Prayer
Recognizing and circumventing the obstacles
by Candy Arrington

As you travel the highway of life, you can expect roadblocks along the way. You’ll encounter construction that requires you to take a meandering detour. Or a bridge is out, making it necessary to turn around and retrace your route. Perhaps you discover a road is permanently closed, although the map shows it open. Prayer provides the GPS you need for life’s journey. But like roadblocks in travel, there are also obstacles to prayer.
Here are five things that hinder a fervent prayer life. Are one or more detouring you?
 1. Indifference
 It’s easy to fall for the myth that life crashes into you no matter what, rendering prayer pointless. A “so what” attitude is one of the biggest deterrents to an effective prayer life. Indifference is like coasting through life in neutral gear. You miss out on wisdom, direction and intimacy with God when indifference is in the driver’s seat.

 2. Hectic schedule
 Over commitment is the bane of modern society. You agree to do things because you feel guilty for saying “no,” think the involvement will elevate you in some way, or because you expect some sort of gain or the advancement of a goal. Packed calendars allow little time for rest, reflection and prayer. A hectic schedule seems a logical excuse for no time to pray, but you rob yourself of a vital spiritual refueling stop when you skip your prayer time.

 3. Distractions
 A friend once said he knew he was in trouble spiritually when he turned on the radio in the car. He usually used driving time as prayer time and turning on the radio signaled he was avoiding a conversation with God. Your life is full of distractions from impending deadlines to technology to entertainment. You waste more time each day than you realize. And the natural bent of human nature is to fall into mindless distraction. You feel God’s gentle nudge to spend time with Him, but the neon lights of an Internet or television “billboard” entice you to spend your time at a different destination.

 4. Sin
 Have you ever gone for days, weeks or months without praying because you knew your sin was a barrier that had to be confronted and torn down? The more the gulf widens, the greater the separation and the more difficult it is to bridge. You try to justify your abandoned prayer life, but in your heart, there is the familiar ache that comes with trying to live life on your own terms. Soon you’re maneuvering down unfamiliar roads without the comfort, direction and support prayer provides.

5. Lack of discipline
 Lack of discipline and procrastination are a dual-lane highway. It’s easy to put off prayer by inventing reasons why later is better. But later is usually occupied with something else that seems urgent and prayer gets parked at a roadside overlook and forgotten. “The battle of prayer is against two things in the earthlies: wandering thoughts and lack of intimacy with God’s character as revealed in His word. Neither can be cured at once, but they can be cured by discipline.” Oswald Chambers

Recognizing the triggers, avoiding the roadblocks
 As with most bad habits, there are triggers that send you down the road of prayer avoidance.
 Fatigue – Your spiritual life suffers when you’re exhausted.
 Self-pity – Preoccupation with self causes you to look inward rather than upward.
 Feelings – Satan uses low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness to convince you God isn’t interested in communicating with you.
Here are three ways to thwart the triggers and avoid prayer roadblocks:
 1. Have a set daily prayer time. Give this time the same consideration you would a business or medical appointment.
 2. Make prayer a priority. Most people give eating a high priority in their daily routine. Put prayer on the same level of importance as food. Prayer is a vital part of your spiritual nourishment. Attitudes, feelings and actions change when you prioritize prayer.
 3. Write your prayers. Have a notebook or journal designated for prayer. When you open that notebook, let it signify a mental shift to prayer. For a set amount of time, allow prayer to be your focus. When your mind wanders, force it back by writing your prayers.

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