Overcoming the obstacles in prayer

If you’re local(ish) and it’s remotely practical, I’d love to sit down and talk with you in person. The reality is that we’re scattered all over the place and it’s not likely to happen. I don’t feel like letting that stop us from having a good conversation, though. I mean, you can fix yourself a cup of ...

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GRAPHIC Guilt isn't productive

If you’re local(ish) and it’s remotely practical, I’d love to sit down and talk with you in person. The reality is that we’re scattered all over the place and it’s not likely to happen. I don’t feel like letting that stop us from having a good conversation, though. I mean, you can fix yourself a cup of your favorite coffee with just the right kind and amount of creamer or sugar or sweetener. And I can do the same here. And we can still talk from the comfort of our own living rooms—whenever it happens to be convenient.

Periodically, I’ll be posting questions here, and I hope you’ll interact with me. Nothing worse than inviting someone to coffee and having them not show up.

Speaking of that… A man at our church preached about this one time and the analogy really stuck with me. Imagine… I got all ready to go to lunch with my best friend. Picked out cute clothes and shoes (he probably didn’t mention that but that’s just where my mind went). Cleared my schedule, made arrangements for my kids (this was back when they were younger), and drove to the restaurant right on time. And then she didn’t show up? He proposed that maybe that’s how God feels when we say we’ll pray, when we say we want to spend time with Him, and we never get around to it.

Ouch.

If you’re like me, you’d stay and eat anyway. Because lunch. And because books make pretty good dining companions, even if they’re not quite as good as people. Well, not always.

But back to prayer. As I’ve promised repeatedly in my writing, this is a guilt-free zone and I don’t think guilt belongs in prayer. I also don’t believe God ever beats us up for our failings. Sure, He wants us there. And He’ll show us when we have done something wrong. But guilt isn’t productive. Love is. So He just tries to help us be better.

So let’s start a new conversation. What are some of the obstacles that keep you from praying or from spending time with God?

I want you to be real. The reason can be large or small. Maybe you can’t find a private spot in your house. Or maybe you don’t know if you believe in God. Maybe you don’t think He answers prayer. Maybe you think you don’t deserve it. Or you don’t know how to talk to someone you can’t see. Or someone has said something to make you feel guilty or unworthy, making you doubt whether you’re actually a Christian in the first place. Maybe you have three kids under the age of 5 and you rarely find a moment of quiet. Or maybe you aren’t sure what to say.

One thing I can promise you: you are not alone. You’re not the only one with your particular doubt or hurdle or issue or fear or crazy schedule. But the only way to find that out? Admit it and start a conversation about it.

I have plenty of my own issues, many of which I’ve already shared in my book. But I won’t ask you to share anything that I’m not willing to discuss. So this is my current struggle. Right now I’m in a season when writing consumes all of my attention and energy, and pure, focused prayer doesn’t get the time or attention it deserves. A friend helped by suggesting that—using my own words against me—our prayer lives change over time and in different seasons, and we need to be open to whatever God has for us. I need to remember that my prayer life may not look like the next person’s, but not to rule it out simply because of that. If I hadn’t shared, I wouldn’t have had my friend gently encourage me. But because I did, she pointed out to me that for this season, my prayer may (mostly) take the form of sitting in front of my computer and writing.

It helped. And it made me more intentional about it.

So what are your prayer struggles? What obstacles keep you from spending time with God? And, let’s turn this around: do you have any suggestions for me?

 

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