The Free Grace Broadcaster has a great article by Charles Spurgeon about hindrances to our prayer life. He provides four point that hinder us 1) lukewarmness 2) busyness with the world 3) busyness with the church and 4) a lack of organization or planning. Spurgeon’s thoughts are worth meditating on along with reading the full article.
Our prayers may be hindered by falling into a generally lax, lukewarm condition in reference to the things of God. When a man becomes cold, indifferent, and careless, one of the first things that will suffer will be his devotion. When a sick man is in a decline, his lungs and his voice suffer; so when a Christian is in a spiritual decline, the breath of prayer is affected, and the cry of supplication becomes weak. Prayer is the true gauge of spiritual power. To restrain prayer is dangerous and of deadly tendency. You may depend upon it that, take it for all in all, what you are upon your knees you really are before your God…If you are a man of earnest prayer, and especially if the spirit of prayer be in you, so that in addition to certain seasons of supplication your heart habitually talks with God, things are right with you. But if this is not the case and your prayers be “hindered,” there is something in your spiritual system that needs to be ejected or somewhat lacking that ought at once to be supplied.
Prayers may be hindered, next, by having too much to do. In this age, this is a very common occurrence. We man have too much business for ourselves. The quiet days of our contented forefathers are gone, and men allot to themselves an increasing drudgery. Not content to earn as much as is necessary for themselves and families, they must have much more than they can possibly enjoy for themselves or profitably use for others…Many a man who might have been of great service to the church of God becomes useless because he must branch out in some new direction in business, which takes up all his spare time. Instead of feeling that his first care should be, “How can I best glorify God?” his all-absorbing object is to “stretch his arms like seas and grasp in all the shore”…The rich man in the parable had no time for prayer, for he was busy in planning new barns wherein to bestow his goods. Yet, he had to find time for dying when the Lord said, “This night shall thy soul be required of thee” (Luk 12:20). Beware, I pray you, of “the lusts of other things” (Mar 4:19), the [cancer] of riches, the greed insatiable that drives men into the snare of the devil. If it works you no other ill, it will do you mischief enough if thereby your prayers are hindered.
We may even have too much to do in God’s house, and so hinder our prayers by being like Martha, cumbered with much serving. I never heard of anyone who was cumbered with much praying. The more we do, the more we should pray, and prayer should balance our service, or rather, it should be the life-blood of every action, and saturate our entire life…I fear that some of us would do far more if we attempted less and prayed more about it. I even fear that some allow public religious engagements to override private communion with God: they attend too many sermons, too many conferences, too many Bible readings, too many committees, aye, and too many prayer meetings— all good in their way, but all acting injuriously when they cramp our secret prayer…Praying is the end of preaching, and woe to the man who, prizing the means more than the end, allows any other form of service to push his prayers into a corner.
Some people hinder their prayers, again, by a [lack] of order. They get up a little too late, and they have to chase their cork all the day and never overtake it, but are always in a flurry, one duty tripping up the heels of another. They have no appointed time for retirement, too little space hedged about for communion with God; and, consequently, something or other happens, and prayer is forgotten.— nay, I hope not quite forgotten, but so slurred and hurried over that it amounts to little and brings them no blessing. I wish you would each keep a diary of how you pray next week, and see how much or rather how little time you spend with God out of the twenty-four hours. Much time goes at the table; how much at the mercy seat? Many hours are spent with men; how many with your Maker? You are [to some extent] with your friends on earth; how many minutes are you with your friend in heaven? You allow yourself space for recreation; what do you set apart for those exercises that in very truth re-create the soul?…
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