What gets in the way of your prayer? What, if you could push it aside for a few minutes is the biggest reason you don’t pray more? Everyone of us has our own obstacles to prayer. However, I’m willing to bet that the more people that were asked, the more alike we would find the responses. This brings me to my own, which is busyness, and I’m sorry to those faithful of you who haven’t seen anything new in over a week. What I would consider bigger than all the other obstacles to prayer in my life is certainly busyness. Or maybe busyness is just the tip of the iceberg.
Differentiating obstacles to prayer from distractions
I called out busyness as the biggest inhibitor to my prayer, but I have a sinking suspicion I’m just fooling myself. What is busyness but a momentary distraction? Now, some of us make pretty substantial existences on busyness, but I have to argue that busyness is nothing more than a preoccupation. If so, then could there be a hindrance underlying my busyness that causes me to retreat into busyness? Are there obstacles to prayer that lie far deeper that I might not want to unearth today?
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” — Luke 4:4–8
Obstacles to prayer come from the heart
No, I realize that deep down, there is a truth I do not want to acknowledge, a lie onto which I cling. Like in the parable above, my heart is the thorny soil, choking out the desire to pray most of the time. How did those thorns get there? I think it has something to do with the failure to understand the goodness of a Father. I believe it has to do with a childhood’s worth of internalizing what the imperfections of my own dad might (in the absolute worst case scenario) imply about my own worthlessness and inability. But you see, the imagination of a child can very easily run wild, especially since I have a pretty awesome dad. Nonetheless, beliefs formed, cemented, and reinforced over several years are hard to loose.
Enough about me, though. Friend, what keeps you from prayer? What are the obstacles to prayer, or maybe the single obstacle, you cannot seem to get past? I encourage you to follow a similar exercise to the thought process I just typed for you. I can’t encourage you enough to be vulnerable at least with yourself and look into what draws away your heart from prayer. Then ask what might lie underneath it. Because God is to amazing for us to keep missing out our entire lives.