Prayer Lesson 2: Overcoming the Difficulties of Prayer

Lesson 2: Overcoming the Difficulties of Prayer

  1. Prayer is difficult.
    1. People misunderstand prayer.
      1. They don’t understand what the Bible says about it.
      2. They fail to appreciate the necessity of prayer. “God is going to do whatever He wants anyway, so why pray?” “It doesn’t seem to matter if I pray or not.”
      3. They have false expectations about it, and when prayer doesn’t get them what they want, they quit.
      4. They underestimate what biblical prayer requires. Prayer is hard work. It demands concentrated effort. It places demands on mind and body. It requires extended time and a quiet place. Some are unwilling to invest the energy and time necessary to have an effective prayer life.
      5. Some are unsure about what to say and how to say it. They are intimidated by the flowery prayers they’ve heard in the past and don’t think they can pray correctly. They don’t know the mysterious formulas or incantations people use to address God.
    2. Biblical indications that prayer is difficult.
      1. Mt 26:41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
      2. Rom 15:30  … strive together with me in prayers to God for me,
      3. Eph 6:18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
      4. 1Pe 4:7  But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
    3. Prayer may become a burden, a duty more than a delight.
      1. We know that we should do it, but find it difficult, boring, and/or unfruitful.
      2. We find that our minds wander, our bodies are uncomfortable, and we don’t know what to say.
    4. Worldly influences insist that prayer is meaningless superstition.
      1. It’s a relic of the dark ages, little more than empty wishes. Prayer is a psychological means of coping with the difficulties of life. Answers to prayer are merely self-fulfilled expectations or happy coincidences that only gullible people attribute to God’s intervention.
      2. Educated people know better; they don’t waste their time “wishing upon a star.”
    5. The Bible lists several hindrances that make prayer ineffective.
      1. Unbelief  (James 1:6-7)
      2. Disobedience  (Isa 59:1-4)
      3. An unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25)
      4. Unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18)
      5. Failure to ask or asking with wrong motives (James 4:1-3)
  2. We must overcome the difficulties of prayer.
    1. Understand the importance of prayer (review last week’s lesson).
    2. See that prayer is a privilege, a gift of grace. We approach God “to find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14-16).
    3. Recognize that prayer is the means by which we maintain intimacy and communion with God. We connect with God through prayer. Prayer is an essential component of Christian spirituality; you cannot experience a full Christian life without it.
    4. Affirm that prayerlessness is essentially a failure to understand and appreciate the nature of God. People don’t pray because they don’t know God. “If we are lethargic in prayer it is because we are blind to the nature of the God to whom we pray.”[1]
    5. Hints for effective prayer
      1. Pray to God, in Jesus’ name, through the power of the Holy Spirit. John 16:24; Acts 12:5; Eph 6:18
      2. Follow the ACTS pattern in your regular devotional prayer life.

Adoration  Nehemiah 9:6-7

Confession  Prov 28:13; 1 John 1:9

Thanksgiving  1 Thes 5:18

Supplication  Phil 4:6; James 4:3

  1. Plan your schedule so you can pray regularly. Read Ps 55:17.
  2. Find a quiet place away from distractions so you can concentrate.
  3. Use a list. E.g., the bulletin, church directory, make your own
  4. Make prayer an absolute priority in your daily life. Discipline yourself to participate in this essential Christian exercise.


[1] C. Samuel Storms, Reaching God’s Ear (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1988), 18-19.


Lessons in this Course
Table of Contents
Prayer Lesson 1: The Importance of Prayer
Prayer Lesson 2: Overcoming the Difficulties of Prayer
Prayer Lesson 3: What is Prayer?
Prayer Lesson 4: Our Perspective on Prayer
Praying Lesson 5: Praying in Jesus’ Name
Praying Lesson 6: How Not to Pray
Praying Lesson 7: The Model Prayer Matt 6:9-15
Praying Lesson 8: Pray-ers that Pleases God
Praying Lesson 9: Persistence in Prayer
Praying Lesson 10: Learning from Paul’s Prayers
Praying Lesson 11: Learning from OT Prayers
Praying Lesson 12: Prayer as an Expression of Spirituality
Praying Lesson 13: The Five Different Kinds of Prayer in the Psalms
Praying Lesson 14: Prerequisites to Effective Prayer
Praying Lesson 15: Prayer and Fasting

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