I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 35 years now and still struggle with having a deep prayer life – consistently. I have days while praying, when tears are streaming down my face and I feel unbelievably connected to God and alive as a believer. Then come stretches when my mind wanders and my prayers feel lifeless – like I’m just going through the motions.
And most men I talk with have the same struggle. Perhaps women do as well, but men for sure. So let’s explore some spiritual and practical reasons why that may be true in your life.
1. Men are doers! Men like to get things done. I’ve noticed this about myself; that perhaps 75-80% of the things I set out to do, I get done. I’ve also noticed that a much smaller percentage of the things I pray for “get done.
Sadly, I may have concluded subconsciously, that one of the reasons I work harder than I pray, is that I have more confidence in me than in God to accomplish things. It pains me to admit that sin, but I think it’s true sometimes. If it weren’t true, I’d pray more, wait on God more, and work less.
When I’m lucid enough to realize what’s happening, I’ll cry out to God to both forgive me and ask him to give me eyes of faith to enable me to “wait upon the Lord.” 2. I don’t always notice my answered prayers A few weeks ago, I stumbled on my Top 10. 30 years ago, I made a list of 10 non-believers I began praying for. But, over time, I got out of the habit of praying for them regularly. But, when I read the list, eight of them have come to faith! God had answered 80%, but over such a long period of time. I hadn’t really noticed. Shame on me!
Men are impatient. When we don’t see results fairly quickly, we give up and move on to praying for other people and other things. I’ve met many men who attribute their salvation to the prayers of a faithful mother or grandmother – but not one that I can remember, to the prayers of a father or grandfather! Read what Jesus taught about in need for persistent prayer in Luke 18:1-8.
Take some time this Christmas vacation to recall and thank God for your answered prayers.
3. I can easily forget the primary reasons for prayer is praise and thanking God. It’s human nature, if we’re short on time, to ask God for help and spend less time on thanking and praising God. As a new Christian, I learn the ACTS principle of prayer. Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication
It’s a simple teaching for remembering the priorities of prayer and wonderful way to teach your children, grandchildren and those you spiritually mentor, how to pray. Go to Billy Graham’s website to find out more. (http://bit.ly/1yDrBdE)
4. Un-repented sin poisons our prayer life. The Bible says we grieve the Holy Spirit, when we sin. We can actually make the Holy Spirit sad and it hinders our prayers.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32
When I was in 3rd grade, I told a huge lie in class. My teacher called my mother to ask if it was true and I knew she’d made that call.
When I got home, my mother was sitting at the kitchen table silent and sad. She was grieving. I walked quickly past her to the refuge of my room. But I knew, even as a kid, there was only one way this problem could be fixed.
I walked to the kitchen, stood before my mother, told her how sorry I was for lying and asked her forgiveness. I remember her lifting her head, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand and putting her arms around me. No words passed, but I knew, the grieving was over.
When I find my prayer life flat, it’s often due to some ongoing sin that I’ve confessed but haven’t yet stopped. Is there some habitual sin, holding you back from fellowship with God?
5. Our prayers are hindered if our marriages are not healthy. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7 Enough said!
If you’re married and your prayer life’s been flat, could the problem be some sinful behavior or attitude you have toward your wife? Have you been daydreaming about another man’s wife? Have your sharp words wounded your wife and you no longer care? Peter was right. I’ve never met a man whose prayer life was a joy to him, if his marriage wasn’t. (While the Bible doesn’t say it, I believe the same is true for wives who are disrespectful to their husbands.)
So, if you’ve felt your prayers bouncing off the ceiling, could it be one or more of these hindrances? I’ve found, when I confess one or more of these sins or attitudes toward God or my wife, almost immediately I get my joy back, and life returns to my prayer life! Try it.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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