Opposition and Hindrances to Prayer
“We have said earlier that prayer is as simple as a little child asking something of its father. Nor would such a remark need any further comment were it not for the existence of the evil one.
There is no doubt whatever that the devil opposes our approach to God in prayer, and does all he can to prevent the prayer of faith. His chief way of hindering us is to try to fill our minds with the thought of our needs, so that they shall not be occupied with thoughts of God, our loving Father, to Whom we pray. He wants us to think more of the gift than of the Giver. The Holy Spirit leads us to pray for a brother. We get as far as ‘O God, bless my brother’ — and away go our thoughts to the brother, and his affairs, and his difficulties, his hopes and his fears, and away goes prayer!
How hard the devil makes it for us to concentrate our thoughts upon God! This is why we urge people to get a realization of the glory of God, and the power of God, and the presence of God, before offering up any petition. If there were no devil there would be no difficulty in prayer, but it is the evil one’s chief aim to make prayer impossible.
No one can prescribe for another. Let each be persuaded in his own mind how to pray, and the Holy Spirit will inspire us and guide us how long to pray. And let us all be so full of the love of God our Savior that prayer, at all times and in all places, may be a joy as well as a means of grace.
Our anonymous Christian Brother continues with other hindrances to our prayer:
“(1) Doubt. Now, unbelief is possibly the greatest hindrance to prayer. Our Lord said that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin — ‘of sin because they believe not on Me’ (St. John 16:9). We are not ‘of the world,’ yet is there not much practical unbelief in many of us? St. James, writing to believers, says: ‘Ask in faith, nothing doubting; for he that doubteth . . . let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord’ (St. James 1:6-8). Some have not because they ask not. Others ‘have not’ because they believe not.
(2) Then there is Self — the root of all sin. How selfish we are prone to be even in our ‘good works!’ How we hesitate to give up anything which ‘self’ craves for. Yet we know that a full hand cannot take Christ’s gifts.
(3) Unlove in the heart is possibly the greatest hindrance to prayer. A loving spirit is a condition of believing prayer. We cannot be wrong with man and right with God. The spirit of prayer is essentially the spirit of love. Intercession is simply love at prayer.
(4) Refusal to do our part may hinder God answering our prayers. Love calls forth compassion and service at the sight of sin and suffering, both here and overseas. Just as St. Paul’s heart was ‘stirred’ — ‘provoked’ — within him as he beheld the city full of idols (Acts 17:16). We cannot be sincere when we pray ‘Thy kingdom come’ unless we are doing what we can to hasten the coming of that kingdom — by our gifts, our prayers and our service.
(5) Praying only in secret may be a hindrance. Children of a family should not always meet their father separately. It is remarkable how often our Lord refers to united prayer — ‘agreed’ prayer. ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father’; ‘If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them. . . . For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt. 18:19-20). We feel sure that the weakness in the spiritual life of many churches is to be traced to an inefficient prayer-meeting, or the absence of meetings for prayer.”
Again, all of the above was derived from The Kneeling Christian, available to read online or from Zondervan Publishing. What a blessing is this little book. May we grow in our walk with the Lord and commune with Him in prayer, always.