WHAT HINDERS PRAYER?
This is the second part of a series on prayer. As we have discovered in the first part the Bible has a lot to say about prayer. In this part we will be looking at the hindrances to our prayers. These are not all the hindrances but five of the main ones.
FATHER, I PRAY THEE TO OPEN THE EYES OF THE UNDERSTANDING OF MY BRETHREN, SO THAT THEY MAY GAIN FROM THY WORD. I GIVE YOU GLORY IN JESUS NAME. AMEN
1). Sin hinders Prayer:
Many men cry to God in vain, because of their sins.
"Search me `O' God, and know my heart try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me. (Ps 139:23,24).
The Psalmist knew that prayer could be hindered by sin and so he made the above statement. Sin is an awful thing and one of the most appalling things about it is the way it hinders prayer. It breaks the communication link between us and the Father, the source of all grace. Sin creates a barrier. It just blocks our connection to God.
Anyone who would have power in prayer must be ruthless in dealing with his own sins. The Psalmist says in Ps 66:18 that "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me". As long as we have sin in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us. The word of God clearly indicates this in Pro 28:9: "He that turneth his ears from hearing the law even his prayer shall be an abomination". Not obeying the word of the Lord is sin, for the word of the Lord is the law of the Almighty.
God has made a provision of His grace to all His children. The Bible says that if we confess our sins to God, He is both faithful and just to forgive us. We have a High priest who is interceding for us at the Father's right hand. Beloved, the grace of God is provided for you and I to enable us have a right standing in the presence of our God.
Let us, therefore stop any little sin and any forms of disobedience and obey the word of God completely. For if there is any sin or any form of disobedience it will prevent us from having communion with our Lord and Saviour. "I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" and by His grace..."sin shall not have dominion over you for ye are not under the law but under grace". (Rom 12:1, Rom 6:14).
Finally, it is good to know that the arms of the Lord are not shortened that He cannot save neither are His ears deaf that He cannot hear but it is our sins that separate us from Him. (Isa 59:1,2). Therefore let us cast away all sins and disobedience and live in truth and purity before our Lord.
2). Idols in the heart hinder prayer:
In times past, God has refused to listen to the prayers of many saints because of idols in their hearts. What is an idol really? An idol is anything that takes the place of God, anything that is the supreme object of our affections. God alone should be entitled to have the supreme place in our hearts. Everything and everyone else must be subordinate to him. The Apostle John when writing his first general epistle said "Little children keep yourselves from idols"(1 John 5:21).
Idols are easily created by human beings, we make idols of our life partners, of our jobs, of our homes, our reputation, of our achievements, of our faith; we make idols of a whole range of things. Not that all the above mentioned things are evil in themselves, rather it is our deposing God of His rightful place with these things that is evil. It is the will of the Lord that we achieve great things in this life. He wills for us to be happy, to have a family, to have a good job, to have great faith; but He wants to be the central theme of our lives.
The great question we must ask ourselves is: Who has first place in my life? We must also ask ourselves, is the Lord fully glorified in my life? We are alive because He gave us life we should appreciate the gift of life and most of all we must appreciate the giver of life, our Father God. When the Lord is not first in our lives prayer becomes more of a burden than a fellowship. Prayer ought to be sweet and bring great pleasure to our souls as we approach His throne of Grace. Let the Lord be first in your life and your life would take on new meaning and your prayers shall be unhindered.
3). Stinginess hinders prayer:
The lack of liberality towards the poor and the work of God is a mark of stinginess. It is he who gives generously to others, that the Lord will give generously to. The Lord loves to lavish His blessings on His children but there are conditions. Let us look at Luke 6:38 says " Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure pressed, down shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
If a person gives generously then we know that he shall receive bountifully from the hands of his Maker as a result of His prayer. The stingy man definitely would not receive answers to his prayers. For as a man sows so shall he reap. Prayer has a link to giving which is this, what you give, how you give it, would, according to, scripture (Rom 12:8, 2 Cor 9:5-15) determine what you receive from the Lord.
There are a lot of ways by which we can prove to be stingy. For some of us it is with our time, others money, others personal belongings or other things. If we always remember that the Lord gave all we have to us then we can be more liberal in the use of these things. Freely have we received therefore freely must we give? Let us give God our time, our money and above all ourselves. Giving ourselves to Him also means giving ourselves to one another. Beloved let us love one another love gives. If you love then give.
4). An unforgiving Spirit will hinder prayer:
This is one of the most usual hindrances to prayer. The bible is very clear on this issue. It says countlessly that we must forgive one another. To bear a grudge against another is a fast way of closing the ears of the Almighty. How many are they that cry out to the Lord for the conversion of a loved one and yet they cry in vain? It is impossible to pray for a person you have something against. Prayer ought to flow out of the river of love in your heart. For the love of God is shed aboard in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. (Rom 5:5). If you love then you can forgive, God loved you and I and He forgave us all our trespasses. Our prayers will not be answered as long as we bear grudges in our heart, we must forgive. When we look at the Lord's prayer we would see, the prayer that the Lord taught us is a prayer of commitment, if we don't forgive we shall not be forgiven. Matt 6:12.
"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"
Looking at this carefully one can draw the conclusion that if we don't forgive; we shall not be forgiven. To some this is bad news to other this is sweet to the ears. It should be good news to your ears, beloved forgive and your sins shall be forgiven you. Cast away all grudges then the Lord shall be unto you as "He that answereth prayer". To have an unforgiving spirit is to hate, let us ask the Lord to help us forgive and ask Him to give you a heart to ceaselessly forgive others. Only by the grace of God can we forgive let therefore draw near to Him for grace in the time of need.
5). Doubt can be a hindrance to prayer:
The last hindrance I would talk about is found in James 1:5-8
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
Prayers are hindered when we doubt. God demands absolute and total belief and trust in His word. To question God's word is to call Him a liar. Prayer should be in line with the word of God. Therefore, faith in His word is a guarantee for answer to prayer. Sometimes we go to God and ask Him for something that is positively promised in His word, but we do not totally believe and expect it to happen. Such an attitude would definitely hinder our prayers. God and His word can never fail, never change and never disappoint. He that doubt's God's word is unstable and can't obtain answers from the Lord.
Faith is the opposite of doubt and it is a key to answered prayers. Faith which rests on things that we see or feel or experience, will not grow strong or even continue to live. Hebrews 11:1, tells us that faith deals with the unseen things. Revelations 12:11, says "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony". Bear in mind that the word testimony used here is actually the confession of their faith. In Hebrews 4:12, we are told that the word of God is powerful but its power operates only in faith. When we have prayed, we must hold onto God in faith. We must have faith in God. (Mark 8:22, Luke 8; 50).
In the parable of the talents, Matthew 25, the portion that the Lord gave to each man was doubled by his use of it. Every day, use all the faith that God's grace has made available for you and see it grow. Faith pleases God, for without faith, it is practically impossible to please Him. (Heb 11:3). If our eyes are on the Lord Jesus, on His Almightiness, His Faithfulness and His oath to keep every promise He has made, then our faith will never fail.
Now that we know the hindrances to prayer, let's look out for them and pull them down when we see them in our lives. The Lord's name in the book of Psalms 65:2 is "O thou that heareth prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come". So we know that God hears and answers prayer. Therefore if we look out for these hindrances and correct them, the Lord shall surely hear us and if He hears us, then we know that we have the petitions that we have required of Him. (I John 5:15).
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