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Breaking Through Prayer Barriers

Prayer is something every believer would say is important. Nonetheless, many of us have struggled with prayer and find it difficult. There are cultural headwinds to developing a vibrant prayer life. There are time constraints. There are precious few models of life-giving prayer. Barriers and frustration abound.

God has gotten ahold of my heart recently and led me into the joy of His presence with greater frequency and fruit and, as one who has experienced my fair share of prayer challenges, I wanted to share a resource with you that has helped me tremendously in this breakthrough. The resource itself is great, but it is the mindset shift that the resource encourages that is most important.

The resource is a book called Transforming Prayer by Daniel Henderson, and the subtitle captures the essence of the mindset shift that I mentioned above: “How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face.” Many of us have viewed prayer primarily as a way to get things from God, and certainly He desires to bless us. When we can begin to view prayer as an opportunity to experience God, though, this provides sustainability for our prayer lives.

Some have challenged us by saying, “How would you feel if your friend only came to you asking for things? You wouldn’t have much of a relationship, would you?” While this is true, it merely provides a guilt-based motivation for better prayer. In reality, we enjoy relationships much better when they aren’t strictly functional—that is to say, they aren’t based on what others can do for us, but rather arise from a mutual enjoyment of one another’s company. Another way of saying this is that we don’t even like relationships with people whom we only approach for the sake of accomplishing some agenda.

When our prayers are an expression of our desire to seek God’s face, prayer starts to look different. First, our prayers focus more on God, His sufficiency, and the leading of His Spirit, and less on our prayer lists. Practically this means we begin with praise, as the Lord’s Prayer does (Matthew 6:9–13). Second, our times of prayer become more enjoyable and relationally intimate. Third, our prayers refer to the Scriptures more often, because we are allowing God to dictate the terms of our discussion with Him. These points correspond to Henderson’s ideal for prayer: that it be Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, and worship-based.

Now it’s your turn. What has been helpful to you in overcoming prayer barriers? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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