by David Gates
Every time in Jesus’ earthly ministry, before a major event he went off to pray in solitude. Before he began his public ministry he went into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray. He went up the mountain to pray with a few of his disciples before the Transfiguration. On the night before He suffered He went off to pray in a garden. He purposely went off to these places where there were no distractions, where He could give his full attention to God in prayer. There are a number of ways that Satan separates us from God, but it ultimately boils down to a separation from times for prayer itself, but then again during prayer by distraction.
One of the most successful tactics of demons to keep us from prayer is busyness. We can get so busy (caught up in the everyday things in our lives) that we put off or forget to pray to God during our day. If we don’t set a time for prayer we won’t pray. Men need specific discipline and the accountability of brotherhood to fight this.
We can also be simply too distracted by things we see, hear, or feel to go deeply into prayer. This can be closely related to what we see during the day. As men, we tend to take in our world visually which is why images of provocatively dressed women have been so successful as a distraction. Distraction can (and often does) lead to temptation, and temptation leads to sin. Once we’re deep in sin, we live further from God, perhaps even thinking we shouldn’t or can’t go to Him. The temptation can be through billboards or pop-up advertisements on a website that you browse on a regular basis (think ESPN or Sports Illustrated Online). You may resist looking but at some point in time you could be tempted to take a peek.
Smartphones and the internet are also used with great success by Satan, but it is not just the images that are available at the click of a button. Frequent use of smartphones and surfing the internet are acts isolating and easily self-centered. Along with a spirit of prayer, relationships and brotherhood are not fostered by these habits. It also programs our mind to think in such a way that deep reflection becomes very difficult – prayer itself can be overly strenuous when we can’t focus without checking a screen.
Envy has also been used by Satan with great success. We see someone else that has a new car, a beautiful house or vacation property, a high paying job, etc. We spend so much time envying others for the things that they have and we don’t, that we forget that everything is a gift from God. We forget to thank God for the many ways he has blessed our lives.
I believe it is important that these questions be discussed with your brothers. By sharing the things that separate you from God in your daily life, you will find out that you are not alone, that there are others that are struggling with the exact same thing you are. It is so important to know that you are not alone.
It is also important to discuss because the “fight for our lives” is not something that we can do alone. We need each other. We need to pray for one another and lift each other up. If we do not talk about these things with our Fraternus Brothers then we will not know to pray for a brother that may be struggling greatly. Satan has a multitude of demons prowling about the world seeking the ruin of our souls. None of us can withstand that alone. We need to fight for prayer time but we also need to be unified in our efforts. It is not if we are being pulled away from prayer, but how.