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Summary: Overcoming common obstacles to prayer.

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Overcoming the Prayer Block

Ref.: Mark 1:35

Luke 5:15

Romans 7:14–25

1 John 1:8–10

Psalms 100:4

Read No Time for Him

I. Obstacles

There are many, though some are mere excuses that would yield to a strong will.

A. Time

1. Life is too busy, but not too busy for less important things—TV, newspaper, and other amusements.

2. Not too busy to spend time with loved ones if they are there.

3. First thing in the morning is the best time.

Mark 1:35—Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

4. "Where there’s a will, there’s a way—especially true where prayer is concerned.

B. Place

1. A little chapel in the home would be nice, or some private place kept for devotions and marked by something that draws you to God. Such a place calls us to prayer even when not inclined.

2. In overcrowded homes, privacy is not always easy. Create a private spot in your heart where you can retreat wherever you are—plane, train, car, etc.

Luke 5:16—But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Picture some place where you can meet Christ—a secluded garden, a sunrise or sunset on the beach. Relate to In the Garden!

3. It is always possible to go for a walk with God!

C. Tiredness

1. Most people claim they are too tired to pray—usually those who leave it to the end of an exhausting day.

2. "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit" was a bedtime prayer used in Jesus’ day, much like our “Now I lay me down to sleep…” If serious prayer is left till then, it is no wonder we find it a burden and fall asleep as we pray. Some have said falling asleep in this manner is like falling asleep in the arms of Jesus, but he deserves better than from us.

3. Reverence demands that we pray before we are too weary to pray well! Just as we would not drive a long distance or operate complex equipment if we were too tired, neither should we pray in this condition.

D. Mental

1. Lack of imagination and an undisciplined mind are mental obstacles. Building a chapel in the soul seems impossible to people deficient in imagination. And if imagination built it, their inability to concentrate would make it difficult for them to worship there.

2. You need imagination in prayer! The person who feels that he is merely speaking to space soon ceases to speak at all.

3. Immerse yourself in the characters—become the leper healed by Jesus, the blind man who sight was restored, the thief pardoned from sin on the cross, the disciples hearing of his resurrection.

4. Do not abandon the privilege of prayer because of mind wandering. It can be conquered. The day will come when the sweetest meditation and the most earnest prayer will be possible even amid distraction.

E. Emotions

1. Enslavement to feeling is another cause of neglected prayer. People don’t pray because they don’t feel like it, and they offer the excuse with a certain cheerful assurance that it will be accepted. They assume that prayers are only effective when they rise from an eager and emotional heart.

Romans 7:14–25—14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

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