Have you noticed how difficult to have a disciplined prayer life? I have. This is something I struggle with regularly.
As I’ve observed myself and what seems to trip me up, I’ve found that it is most often one of these four emotions: fear, apathy, doubt or overwhelm.
It’s embarrassing to admit how many times one of these emotions has caused me to neglect my prayer time.
While God created us emotional creatures, and He Himself expresses a wide variety of emotions, it’s not helpful to allow our emotions to call the shots.
I find that when I get ‘hooked’ by one of these four emotions, I’ve allowed it act like a rudder that steers a ship. I’ve given it permission to control my actions.
The Emotion of Fear
Fear has a uncanny way of hijacking our bodies. Our minds replay the fearful scenario over and over. Our bodies react to the fear with a racing heart and quick, shallow breaths.
When we find ourselves in a state of fear, also known as fight, flight or freeze, we can’t think of anything else, let alone prayer.
Even when the fear is hypothetical, it’s hard not to get hooked by it. It’s no wonder the Bible tells us repeatedly not to fear; this is one of the primary emotions we humans experience.
The Emotion of Doubt
Do you doubt God’s interest or ability in hearing and answering your prayers? This is a familiar feeling to most Christians at some point in their faith journeys.
Maybe you’ve given up waiting for the promise God gave you; maybe you aren’t sure you heard God’s promise correctly to begin with.
It’s possible that the pain you’ve experienced in life has prompted you to question God’s love for you. Whatever the reason you’re experiencing doubt, this emotion makes it hard to turn to God in prayer.
The Emotion of Overwhelm
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by looking outward. Whether it’s the chaotic state of your home, your schedule or the world at large, there are plenty of reasons to feel overwhelmed.
This emotion causes trouble when we feel paralyzed by the overwhelm. We feel like our prayers and actions are just a drop in a bucket of the world’s needs.
What words do we have to offer? What could we possibly accomplish by praying? Why bother?
The Emotion of Apathy
Apathy is a feeling of disinterest or not caring about something. Many Christian’s today feel apathetic towards prayer.
Many blame their busy schedules, but we know that we prioritize what we value.
If we claim to value prayer but our actions say otherwise, it’s because we are apathetic towards the power of prayer and possibly even towards God Himself.
Stop Agreeing With the Enemy and Get Unhooked
Thankfully, God has provided a way to get ‘unhooked’ from these emotions, and it starts with recognizing that these emotions don’t come from our Heavenly Father, but from the enemy.
Paul made it clear to Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:17 that God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. Fear, doubt, overwhelm and apathy all tempt us to believe a lie about God’s nature and the nature of prayer.
As soon as you recognize that these emotions are steering your ship, pause and confess that you have sinned by agreeing with the enemy in the emotion you’re feeling.
Ask for God’s forgiveness, trusting that He is always waiting to forgive.
Agreeing With God and His Spirit-Led Emotions
Paul painted a clear picture of Spirit-led emotions in Ephesians 6. Love, joy and peace are emotions that come from God.
Being filled with these Spirit-led emotions enables us to act with patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and in self-control.
While Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is greater than either faith or hope, we learn that hope is another Spirit-led emotion that is important to our Christian journey.
Love, hope, peace and joy are the antidotes to fear, doubt, overwhelm and apathy.
Run to God and confess your agreement with the lies of the enemy. Then ask Father God—who loves giving good gifts to His children, by the way!—to replace the lies and fill you with the truth of His Spirit-led emotions.
Delight yourself in the Lord, praising Him as He fills you with His Spirit-led emotions, and bear witness to a transformed prayer life full of His love, hope, joy and peace.