You know what? Peter warned us that he enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour someone.
This became clear as I was working down through my list of requests to the Father that coincides with 21 Days of Connection. Distraction, temptation, not able to focus on bible reading, hard to pray, depending on how I felt to determine the success of prayer…then I remembered “The Screwtape Letters”. I love those little fictional accounts that Lewis wrote about a savvy uncle demon who mentors his young nephew demon on how to best drag his human, who is new to the faith, as down as he can.
I “just happened” to have a book marker on letter 4 that is about prayer! How convenient. I wonder if the Lord could have had me leave off there last time because he knew….
Cool. Maybe there is spiritual warfare and God is graciously helping me to have a win!
Here is an excerpt from letter 4 to Wormwood about derailing prayer:
“If this fails, you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they mean to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment…But of course the Enemy will not meantime be idle. Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of His own immediate action.”
That helps me to remember Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 6:8, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Verse 8 is preceded by Jesus instructing us to not pray like unbelievers (yes unbelievers pray) that think their method effects the outcome. The outcome is not up to me but a good Father who gives his kingdom resources for his work freely to his kids who ask him while they are in the fight of seeking his kingdom.
I don’t need to feel any kind of way when praying. I need to ask, seek and knock, trust Jesus, obey his instruction and regardless of my distractions, temptations, lack of focus, feeling all awkward and un-powerful Father knows what I need so I don’t have to make it feel any way. Just ask. Just ask for his stuff (praying in his name) and he will give it.
So, dear saint of God, priest to the Most High, don’t let the evil one and his henchmen keep you from prayer.
Soaked in God’s purposes.
That’ll work and be effective. Take heart and keep seeking the Lord!