Obstacles to Prayer

by Angel Manuel Hernandez

According to an early historical document called the Didaché, the first-century Christians maintained regular prayer meetings three times per day (third, sixth, and ninth hour). But a century later, the Christians held their prayer meetings only twice per day-Sunrise and sunset. It seems like the passion for prayer started slowly decaying, even up to this present day where statistics say that t 20% of church members never pray and the vast majority only do so occasionally.

One of the reasons is the lack of devotion to Jesus (Luke 18:8). The word devotion comes from the Latin “devotiones,” which refers to consecration. But in practical biblical terms, the word refers to wholehearted commitment to Jesus. Devotion to Jesus refers to close fellowship with Him. In other words, the more devotion we have, the closer we are to Jesus. This devotion should lead us to prayer. What a privilege to communicate with the One who loves us and allows us to pray to him. When devotion decays, prayer suffers. A Christocentric Church or cell group reflects devotion to Jesus that results in committed prayer. Yet the lack of prayer leads to indecision (Matthew 7:7), temptation (Luke 22:46), and strife (James 5:16).

Another reason for the lack of prayer is that our Christian faith is often divorced from everyday life. We have forgotten that prayer is a daily activity and that -the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Praying without ceasing destroys the excuse that prayer is only on certain occasions. We need to pray at all times and in all places. But how can we pray at all times and in all places? By transforming our thoughts into prayers. In other words, instead of only talking to ourselves, we need to talk to God. Psychiatrists and psychologists agree that “talking to ourselves” is not a good thing because it leads to anxiety and despair.

Another reason for the lack of prayer is discouragement. Too many Christians have been seduced by the pursuit of pleasure and well-being. And God can not answer prayers that are only centered on personal pleasure and gain (James 4:3). When the believer moves from selfishness to selflessness, God will begin to answer prayer. Job prayed with selfishness for his sons and material possessions (Job 1:5). Yet, after God tested him, he learned to pray uprightly, prayed for his friends, and God blessed his life abundantly (Job 42:10).