When my prayer life gets relegated to time in the car between errands, I know my schedule is jammed past capacity. Can I pray in my car (or in the shower, or any other place I happen to find myself alone for a few minutes)? Of course! But if those quick snatches of time are my only opportunities for dialog with God, I’m probably not having quality conversations. That’s the second major prayer buster in our list of prayer power suckers:
#2 I’m over-extended. I know I can intercede anywhere, anytime. But these are not generally the times when I can be most sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice, work out the nuances of God’s wisdom and direction for a certain situation, or be precise and direct in dealing with the schemes of the enemy through spiritual warfare prayer. That kind of intercession needs time.
Jesus took that kind of time, often retreating to lonely places where He could be alone with His Father for the express purpose of prayer (Mk. 1:35, Lk. 5:16). That kind of prayer—whether listening, interceding, petitioning God for something, or taking on a spiritual warfare assignment—requires that I be rested and “in the moment.” If I’m constantly on the go—even in serving others—I will be too worn out to be effective and alert in prayer. Jesus was conscious of this pitfall, too. It’s why He made sure His disciples got rest in the midst of ministry (Mk. 6:31).
#3 I’m out of alignment. A third possible power sucker to my prayer life generally comes down to my own actions and attitudes.
When my new car rolled off the manufacturer assembly line, it came preset with special settings that, among other things, position its tires correctly so it drives smoothly and straight on the road. And, in order for my vehicle to continue travel and operate the way it’s supposed to, it will need continual monitoring of its alignment. Mis-alignment, my owner’s manual tells me, can lead to “uneven tire wear, poor handling, and shorter tire life.”
Just like being out of alignment with its original design causes a car to drive poorly, being out of alignment with God’s blueprint for life causes all kinds of handling problems. Maybe there’s a selfish or victimized (or critical, you name it) attitude I’m hanging on to. An unconfessed sin I’m unwilling to confess and surrender. An offense I’ve taken up or a hurt I won’t forgive.
When I willingly and knowingly harbor a “sin,” the Holy Spirit quietly recedes without my even realizing it (at first)—until His presence and power are unmistakenly absent. I may even think I’m being opposed by the enemy! But really, I’m grieving the Holy Spirit and being opposed by my own willfulness.
When I recognize this scenario, I have to confess it for what it is, no matter how justified I feel in it. I love how Acts 3:19-20 tells us that, if we repent, “times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.” That’s fresh power!
God has promised us all the power we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). That means we have everything we need to stay focused and fervent in prayer. When we feel dry and powerless, we don’t need to default to blame, condemnation, defeat, or even striving. We can diagnose the problem, deal with it, and press on. Without fail, when I do this, I experience restored fellowship and communication with God, and new energy and effectiveness in my prayer life!
In what ways are you feeling like your prayer life has a dead battery, or is out of alignment? How will you restore power?
(c) 2017 Arlyn Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.