Help For A Faltering Prayer Life

Help For A Faltering Prayer Life

Prayer Life Boring?

I had the privilege of meeting with several ladies not too long ago and I could sense their frustration with not having a consistent, vibrant prayer life. One by one they voiced their dissatisfaction and stories of failure. Now to be sure these are good ladies who want to have an energetic life of praying but the problems they listed that afternoon are the very problems that will bother us also and they will hinder a  time of intimate prayer with our Lord Jesus. Yesterday I was talking with a man who explained how his prayer life had also stalled.  Friends, I am so firmly convinced that God Almighty is very exciting to talk to but we approach Him in wrong ways with wrong ideas about Him and it leads to a boring prayer life and eventually  we quit seeking Him in the secret place, the prayer closet, so we let others talk about it and we say, “Amen!” Remember we are not praying the Rosary or doing contemplative meditation. Those methods will sap the vitality out of your spirit to be sure! Let’s list a few hindrances and see how we can get the victory.

The Flesh Hinders

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5:17. Leonard Ravenhill said, “Prayer is not the preparation for the battle. It IS the battle!” He also said, “Men of prayer must be men of steel for they will be assaulted by Satan even before they attempt to assault his kingdom.” That being said, your adversaries the world, the flesh, and the devil will do everything to keep you from getting alone with the Lord to see the Lord do great and mighty things for Him and through Him. It is BEST to get up early and get alone with the Lord for the greatest results. Let’s talk about the flesh a little. If you are like me we are tired and will fall asleep if we have a comfortable prayer position. (Between the sheets!) Get up and walk around when you pray if you are a person who will doze off while kneeling or sitting. Get out of bed and realize you are about to have an audience with the Creator-Sustainer God…. the One who controls the universe and all that is in it! This is thrilling! Many times we focus too much on ourselves and the dull sound of our voice so instead, put all of your focus upon Him! Remember how you shouted during the UM, MSU football game and you were excited or sad at the result? This time of entering into the prayer closet my friend is so much more important than any football game! Talk out loud and brag on Him and tell Him how much you love Him. Thank Him for his many blessings instead of going to complain on facebook at how mean people are. Pray and confess to the Lord that your flesh is hindering you from prayer. Ask Him for practical ways to overcome these fleshy hinderances. It may also help to shower, eat some food, or drink a cup of your favorite beverage to help stave off the drowsiness. Many people are just too tired because they stayed up late! Get off the phone and go to bed early and rise up early.

The Devil Hinders

Satan knows you are a threat to him and his kingdom because all prayer is really a matter of spiritual warfare and he is clever in stopping or stalling your prayer time. Listen to me! Intimate prayer, real storming the gates of heaven praying is the most powerful thing the Christian can do and Satan works hard at giving us substitutes for this communion with God. I have been with many Christians and since I am a Baptist let me just pick on us Baptists a little bit but I am sure your group is like ours in many respects. We believe in prayer bless God! We believe God hears and answers prayer! Glory! He can move mountains in answer to prayer! Come on preacher! Preach it Man! He delights in the prayers of His saints. Yes, we talk a mean talk but we do not pray! Why is that? I believe we somehow think that the believing in prayer almost equates to actual prayer itself but it does not! Satan LOVES for you to write about prayer. He delights in people talking about prayer. He does not mind if you possess books by Ravenhill, E. M. Bounds, Spurgeon, and others on prayer. Satan will pat you on the back when you quote the great divines on prayer. He thinks it is great that you once prayed all night many years ago and still brag about it. He is pleased with you that you once used to fast and pray. Think about this, “Prayer is as mighty as God, because he has committed himself to answer it. (Leonard Ravenhill) I am under such conviction right now! Excuse me. I’ll be back in a while. (Next Day) I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to go and practice what I was preaching yesterday so I had to steal away for a long time and get fired up. I had a tremendous time with the Lord and was very encouraged by our time together. The devil hates prayer and will offer even good substitutes for praying. (Like blogging!) Remember the devil knows that the good is the enemy of the best.

The World Hinders

There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world,  and none of them is without signification. 1 Corinthians 14:10 That being the case it is true that the world system is always vying for our attention. Try these things to shut out the world. Keep your phone off or away from you as you pray. Get alone far from the noise and “voices” that are trying to distract you. Rise early before the children do and they start to ask for breakfast. It would help if you had a special place in the woods where you can go for a prayer walk without anybody seeing or hearing you when you want to shout to the Lord or cry or clap your hands. God makes us many promises in the Word of God and he will never lie to us concerning them. Call unto me and I will answer thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3 God WANTS us to pray. He LOVES to hear His children’s voices asking for His help. Marvin Smith, Pastor of Harvest Baptist Church said, “It’s as though God is in the unemployment line waiting to be put to work, but we don’t ask Him for help!” We are just too busy and esteem other things more important than fellowship with God. I have the same trouble also. When I sit down at my desk at the church it seems like all of the paperwork begins to talk to me. “Remember you said you would take care of me first!” “HEY! Over here, dude. I have been sitting here for two days now! Get with it.” If we are not careful those things that beckon for our attention will distract us from our primary duty of daily fellowship with the Lord. There is nothing my friend nothing as important as heaven hearing from you and you hearing from heaven. Nothing comes even close! Nothing!

Let Us Hear The Conclusion Of The Whole Matter

Prayer time is important but we don’t treat it as such because we tried it and we fell asleep or we got busy with life: Therefore….

1. Don’t give up! Just when you want to quit the most is the time to stay the course!

2. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It works! You must train yourself.

3. Shower and drink a cup of coffee and walk around praying out loud and praying loudly.

4. Sing songs to the Lord and fall in love with Him. Love Him more than any person alive.

5. Remember the devil is after you and your family. Prayer is the best defense and offense.

How To Avoid Depression

How To Avoid Depression

Keep Thy Heart With All Diligence

The above title is from a great verse found in the Bible, urging us to be very careful as to what we allow into our lives whether it be through the ear or the eye. Having said that there are still things that happen to us that put us into a downward spiral even if we have been careful to avoid the negativity that is so prevalent today. Right up front, we are not saying that this post will keep everyone from all depression ALL of the time. These are just a few ideas that you will find helpful.  Let’s get started. Be wary of social media, prime-time television, the evening news, and negative people, specifically those who are scornful (Those who express contempt and derision).

To break these down many experts are finding that there is an increase in depression with an increase of social media use. There has even been a new term coined called Facebook Depression which describes the negative aspects of large amounts of time on different media. {Anxiety and Depression Association of America} See Dr. Jeff Nalin’s blog. Teens are especially vulnerable to cyberbullying and have even been known to have such a low self-worth that after being bullied they take their own lives! Then it is true also true that many will spend hours on their phones and miss out on proper social interaction with their parents and friends.

Primetime television will suck the life out of one’s soul if you will let it. I am going to date myself here by saying I enjoyed watching the Archie Bunker Show. But to be brutally honest it taught me to despise people, criticize others whom I did not like and tended to make the watchers of the show extremely self-righteous and judgemental. We began to identify with Archie and that my friend is a dangerous thing! Cheers! is a show I never got into and if the mention of that makes you bristle then you need to ask yourself what kind of edifying conversations can come from a show that is featuring drunk people at a bar? There is low brow humor galore to keep you hooked but the end result is a shallow “me first” philosophy of life. The Jerry Springer show was once almost off of the air and the producers told Jerry to get the ratings up no matter what it took and Viola! we have Trash TV, complete with off-duty Chicago police officers to break up the fights that the audience came to see. This type of drivel only causes one to despair at humanity and the downward spiral society is in.

The evening news can be overwhelming too. I understand that it reports the “news” around the world but it is usually full of the murders that took place that day or the latest terror attack. Remember positive events do not usually get Neilson ratings up. I DO care about other parts of the world but the constant barrage of horror that others are enduring overwhelms us and is depressing or we just come to the point that we don’t care anymore.

Negative people are the hardest to avoid because we may have to interact with them every day at the workplace or school. But ask yourself, “Do I have to listen to this stream of gossip, bile, or hatred as the other person wants me to?” I was once talking with Brother Doug Fisher and he said when the conversation turns so as to criticize others he politely excuses himself with a valid reason. Those reasons may include: “I need to get a drink of water. ” or “I need to make a phone call.” or “I need to flush my ears out.”

Be Proactive Against Depression!

How in the world can one be proactive against depression? Isn’t it true that I am doomed to an endless cycle of mood swings, trips to the doctor to alter my meds, and another session of therapy? NO! The following suggestions are not a cure-all but I strongly believe we can do something to fight back when we feel the onset of a depressive cycle. It is now October in Michigan and endless sunny days of riding the bike down to the park to play with the kids are coming to an end. Instead, we are being met with the cold, rainy, and rather gloomy weather which will eventually turn into snow! There I said it! The word snow is treated as a cuss (or curse) word to many. I have already heard a man who is manic depressive mourn that he was sure that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) was just around the corner lurking for him. With that type of attitude, he will surely help with a negative self-fulfilling prophecy in his life.

While it is true we cannot all board a jet for a trip to the Bahamas we can make the best of the situation we find ourselves in. First, talk about it with someone you can trust and begin to plan to be with people when you are tempted to despair. Don’t go it alone please! The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself when sad or depressed. Secondly, being a man of faith I get out a list of Bible verses that remind me of God’s great love and care for me. Some of these are: “Fear thou not, be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 To be dismayed is similar to depression. Take it personally when He says that He is your God! He is your personal God and you must take that promise and believe it with all of your heart! Further, He says He will Strengthen, help, and even uphold thee! Those are some wonderful promises that you can take to the bank of heaven.

Another verse that has encouraged me is in the Gospel of John. We read, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 When I read MY peace I give unto you that means so much! The Lord Jesus has perfect peace and He promises to give us that peace? Friend, that is out of this world! It is a supernatural peace that passes all understanding! (see Philippians 4:6,7) Also, note that is NOT what the world will give you for peace, a temporary, fleeting, shallow peace brought on by pills or booze. The key to these verses giving us help is to not read them from an intellectual perspective but to personalize them. Picture, if you will the Lord Jesus sitting down next to you and saying, “I know you are having an anxiety episode (or) I know you are very depressed and no one seems to care, but I want you to know, …” Then you let Him minister to you with these verses.

Some more verses are: For God hath given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7  I also like a verse found in Joshua. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

The problem with these verses is….wait….there is no problem. We have become too familiar with them and quote them without realizing we are looking at the very promises of God unto His children. I have had many a troubled night turned into a time of peace and then praise as I have reflected upon the precious promises of God. There will be other blogs on depression coming soon. It is such a scourge that Satan is using against the child of God and holding many in bondage. Please feel free to comment and suggest topics related to depression or anxiety or just share your story. I am listening and I care.