I believe all Christians would agree that following God makes you happy and giving into Satan makes you miserable. So if you were Satan and your goal was to make people miserable, how would you go about it and what would you do first?
In high school I had a teacher who was in Vietnam. He told us how nobody wanted to be the guy with the radio (back then one guy in the unit carried a big radio on his back). The reason nobody wanted to be the guy with the radio was because that was the first person the enemy would kill. The enemy knew that if they could destroy the radio then the unit couldn’t call for help and it would be easier to kill them all while minimizing the risk of being killed.
In war and in battles, communication is critical to success. In terms of your own side’s success it is critical to have open communication lines. In terms of defeating your enemy it is critical to cut their communication lines off, and a lot of effort goes into this.
Satan has been around a long time, and he knows this as well as any general or field commander. Thus, he does anything he can to cut off communication between man and God. He knows that if man communicates with God, then man will have the truth, and the truth will make it more likely that the man will do what God wants and not what Satan wants, and therefore Satan will lose. Satan uses the following techniques to cut off communication between God and man. He teaches that:
1. There is no God. Obviously you aren’t going to talk to somebody who isn’t there. If Satan can convince you there is no God, he’s got it made.
2. God isn’t listening. Second best for Satan is if he can convince you that while God is there, he isn’t listening. Sure, he used to listen to people, but he’s not there anymore. He’s on vacation, or unemployed, or just pre-occupied with other things. Or maybe God isn’t really the kind of being who listens, he’s just a “force” in the universe, something intangible and so “listening” isn’t really the kind of thing that he does.
3. Not everybody can pray to God, just certain people. Ok, so you believe God exists and that he listens, but the thing Satan would have you believe after this is that you can’t pray to God. You’re not worthy. Pastors and priests can pray, but not a normal person like you. So if you want to say something to God, you’ve got to go ask someone else to do it for you.
4. You can’t pray directly to God. Ok, if 1-3 fail, then Satan might convince you that God’s really busy, and so you don’t pray to God, you pray to someone or something else, and they’ll deliver your message to God.
5. You can’t pray to God all the time, just at certain times or in certain places. Rats, are you still trying to pray? If you are, then Satan would tell you that it’s fine if you pray, but you can’t just do it willy-nilly, whenever you want. Come on, have some respect! You can only pray to God when you’re in church, or on Sundays, or when you’re in a quiet place, or when you’re alone, or when you’ve got a shirt on, or when your hat is off. But don’t just go saying a prayer in your mind whenever you want, that’s just inappropriate and disrespectful of deity.
6. You can only pray to God about certain things. Ok, so you’re still praying all over the place, but Satan will take what he can get. Certainly you’re not going to pray about small, insignificant, meaningless things, right? I mean, we’re talking about God here. He’s a busy guy. Don’t bother him with the small stuff. He only wants to hear about the really important things in your life, like choosing who you marry, and maybe one or two other things. He certainly can’t be bothered with you feeling sad today, or feeling a little bit sick, or wanting help on your exam–you can take care of those things yourself.
7. God doesn’t communicate directly with man. Well, if you’re not getting the message then that’s fine, you can pray all you want, but the things is that God isn’t going to respond, at least not directly. He’s not actually going to give you answers to questions. After all, you’ve got the scriptures, what else do you need? Isn’t the Bible as clear as day? Nobody ever argues about what the Bible is saying.
8. You shouldn’t speak casually to God. The last thing Satan wants is for you to have the type of relationship with God that you might have with a good friend that you call up and talk to every day. That would be disastrous for Satan’s objectives. So he’ll try to make God seem like someone formal, austere, frightening, inhuman, unfeeling, angry, vengeful, and unfamiliar rather than like what he really is–our father who loves us dearly, who wants us to talk to him, and who wants to talk to us.
It is ok to talk directly to God as though he were our closest friend. It is ok to pray to him whenever and wherever you want to. You don’t need someone else to do it for you, you don’t have to go through someone else, you don’t have to use flowery or memorized words, you can just say what’s in your heart the same way you would say things to that close friend of yours. You can pray about the smallest thing as well as the big things. God has plenty of time. He likes to hear from you, even if it’s just casual conversation. And he does respond. He sends us comfort, he gives us intelligence and wisdom to make correct choices, and when we are doing what’s right or seeking an answer to a question he can send us a feeling of peace–a feeling which Satan cannot duplicate nor counterfeit.