First, he deceives us by accusing us. That’s what the name satan in Hebrew and diabolos in Greek means—one who opposes or accuses. And he hinders our prayers through his whispering in our ears, “Who do you think you are praying to God? Ha! You hypocrite! Why should God listen to you—the way you’ve lived?”
You know that you have done what you ought not to have done, and that you have not done what you ought to have done, and there is no health in you. The devil is right—you’ve failed as a follower of Jesus Christ. You have denied Him by your life, if not by your lips. You don’t deserve the name Christian.
Yes, the devil’s accusations hit the mark, and when you listen to that voice you are filled with guilt. You know you’re just a spiritual derelict, and you despair of ever being that man or woman of God you once aspired to be. Why bother, it will never happen. So you don’t pray. And the devil wins.
But though some of what the devil says is true, it’s not all true; more important, it’s not the whole truth. You see, he deceives us when he accuses us, because in the process he confuses us. Yes, we are sinners; yes, we have failed to be and do what God has called us to; yes, we don’t deserve to be heard when we come before the righteous and holy King of heaven and earth. But the devil knows nothing of God’s grace. For in the end, it’s not our sin that keeps us from God, it’s our pride.
You see, the gospel tells us that we’ve all sinned before God—every one of us. We’re all guilty before Him—far more guilty than we realize. God knows our sin, even more than the devil does, but in His grace He has overcome our sin by taking that sin upon Himself through the death of His Son Jesus Christ. It is as we acknowledge our sin before God and call upon Him to rescue us in His grace and put our faith in Jesus as our Savior—when we say, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”—that’s when the gates of heaven are opened, and we are given free access into the heavenly throne room.
Grace comes through truth. That’s the truth that the devil doesn’t want you to know. But the devil continues to confuse us—he continues to fill our minds with false ideas about God. That’s been his modus operandi since those first days in the garden.
The Challenge of Faith
And this leads to what I consider our final and greatest hindrance to a real life of prayer: We don’t pray because we don’t really believe what we say we believe. It is what Jesus called quite simply “little faith.” “O you of little faith,” He said to His disciples—and He says the same to us.
When we don’t pray, we have to ask ourselves if we really believe that God is great and God is good. The devil has confused us, as he confused Eve in the garden, with the idea that the Lord doesn’t have our best interests in mind—He can’t be trusted with our welfare. Maybe we really do know better than He does what is best for us after all. So why should we pray?
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