A story was once told of a woman who lived in a small house built at the foot of a tall mountain. The mountain obstructed her view and made the inside of the house dark. She had read Jesus’ promise about faith moving mountains. Taking it literally, one night she prayed that the Lord would remove the mountain. The next morning the mountain was still there. “Humph!” she replied. “Just as I expected!”
If we are honest with ourselves, we all probably share the same sentiment of this frustrated, faithless woman from time to time. We pray the wrong things. We pray with no expectancy. We pray without listening. And as a result, we are left with the nagging feeling that our prayers never make it past the roof. If prayer is one of the most important tools in the Christian’s toolbox, over the course of time, Satan has managed to blunt the edge – diminishing the zeal for prayer that once characterized the powerful churches of times gone by.
William Shakespeare may have seen this happening even back in the 17th century. In his tragedy, Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare said,
“We, ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers
Deny us for our good; so find we profit
By losing of our prayers.”
In other words, we don’t get what we want, so we simply give up altogether. But we need to remember what a less-cultured poet from the late 20th Century by the name of Garth Brooks once said, “One of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
The Bible is full of potent reminders of the necessity to pray. We need to look no further than Jesus’ example. Someone once said, “God has only one Son who lived without sin, but He has never had a Son who lived without prayer.” Paul told the church in Thessalonica, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Th. 5:17). And Peter helps us to understand the necessity of prayer for a people living in the end. He said , “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Pt. 4:7).
According to Peter, one of the reasons that God’s people may lack a zeal for prayer is because they lack self-control and sober-mindedness. It may be as simple as the fact that, in our world full of distractions, we simply lack focus. Between screaming children, social media, television, and the other “noise” in our lives, we struggle to find a place where we can clear our minds and talk to the Lord. Until we can do so, we’ll never find our prayer lives to be as fulfilling as Christ desires for them to be.
Twitter is amazing. It can turn a Sweet Hour of Prayer into a minute and a half.
— Church Curmudgeon (@ChrchCurmudgeon) July 24, 2013
 Hobbs, H. H. (1990). My favorite illustrations (p. 200). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.