St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:24

Though God gives us prayer and desires we use it, there are two things which inhibit prayer for most Christians. First is the devil-driven excuse that “I am not ready to pray right now; I will wait until a better time when there’s nothing distracting me.” But don’t kid yourself, the devil will keep distracting you and distracting you, and he’ll work hard to make you forget to pray at all. And every day that goes by, the devil will be there with distractions and excuses to not pray. This is how the devil works, tirelessly against us to trick us. He also influences our bodies and drives us to laziness makes our hearts bitter and cold so that we can’t pray as we may want to. Consider how, in church, we become distracted during the public prayer, when we don’t even have to do the thinking or speaking! How much more distracting can the devil be when our minds aren’t in autopilot but pulled to and fro the day’s problems, activities, plans and wants.

But prayer is also hindered by our own feelings of unworthiness to speak to our heavenly Father and cast our cares on Him. We might think that we shouldn’t pray until we are better and sinning less, or more worthy to open our mouths, until we have all our “good deeds” ducks in a row, confessed our sins, received the Lord’s Supper, and proven our piety. But we must not put God in such a box! God hears and answers prayers because of faith, not the goodness of our works or worthiness of our hearts. Even the worst of sinners, who pray in faith, are heard in heaven and God is more eager to answer their prayers than the prayers of those who look at their own works and readiness as a gauge for right prayer. This is why I always teach Christians to not draw attention to themselves, to make a scene, or turn prayer into a show. It’s better to pray in private where no one sees than to turn prayer into a performance, showing others how devout or “spiritual” you are. And we should NEVER ask God to “just” do this or “just” do that! God wants to do more for us than “just” the bare minimum.

Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing my prayer and promising to answer. Teach me to be faithful in prayer so that the distractions and concerns of this life be cast upon You rather than burden me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.