TO GET RESULTS
YES, THERE ARE HINDRANCES
TO ANSWERED PRAYER
Now comes the hard question. I know what prayer is and why I should pray. I see that Jesus instructed us to pray at least one hour in a secret place, to shut out all distractions.
I pray to Father in the name of Jesus. As Jesus prayed… and David begins his psalms, I start by praising God. I pray in faith, knowing that what I petition for is in His will, so he hears me and I can expect to see the answer. As Jehoshaphat, I have fasted and prayed with praising. As Elijah I have persisted in prayer looking for evidence. These things I have done, yet not all my prayers are answered as I desire.
Is there a hindrance? Are there things that will keep God from answering my petitions?
I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe He has forgiven my sin. I believe there are many things Jesus has provided for us by the shedding of His blood. But are there conditions we must meet to have access to His provisions? Are there thing we must do? Can we expect that belief and forgiveness gives us free reign in the Kingdom of God? Just because He has made me His child, can I do anything I want and still get His blessings?
I’m sure we can all say a quick No to that. Even as natural children, we are disciplined when we misbehave, when we defy the instructions of our Father.
As we read through the Bible we can see things we do that may delay the answer to our prayers. We have glimpsed a few hindrances in our previous studies. So let’s review some hindrances and follow up with anything else that we may find that will delay the answer to our prayers.
HINDRANCES TO ANSWERED PRAYER
1. PRAYING TO GET ATTENTION
One of the things we learned in previous lessons was that we should pray ‘in our closet’. I don’t have a prayer shawl yet, but I have come to learn that the prayer shawl is considered to be’ in the closet’ to the Jew and it has a very intimate feel with God.
Matt. 6:5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.
In my understanding, Jesus is saying we are not to make a spectacle of ourselves when we pray. Don’t pray that we may be seen by man, if we do we won’t get our prayer answered. This is not speaking of those times when we pray for other, as ‘laying hands on’ or as we pray as a group in one accord.
When all prayed in one accord, they weren’t listening to anyone else, their attention was focused on the Lord. They were all praying to God and they didn’t need to hear what their neighbor was praying.
2. LACK OF REVERENCE
Mal 1:6-14 God said…A son honors his father… a servant his master.
When we approach the Father arrogantly, not honoring or respecting Him for Who He is, He may not answer. He may punish us instead of blessing us. Our attitude should be of worship, telling him how much we love and adore Him.
3. CONTINUING IN OUR SIN
Isaiah 59: 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him,
When God has forgiven us, healed us, there is the chance we will sin again. If we do, a worse thing may come on us. Jesus said to sin no more. We all make mistakes, misjudgments or allow the flesh to rule. We all commit sin after our salvation. Repent quickly!
Jesus told every one He healed that they were forgiven. I believed for a long time that these were surely people that had repented and were baptized under John the Baptist. Now I’m not so sure. These people came to God, and He forgave them. Knowing that He could heal, they received there healing, but were told to not sin anymore.
4. UNCONFESSED SIN
Ps.66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.
Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
When we read this whole Psalm, we can see how David is confessing to God that he has no where to hid. That God knows all things, even his thoughts. After confessing the greatness of God, David asked the Lord to search him. God was merciful and restored him back to fellowship.
Even now under the blood of Jesus we must approach God with reverence and a repentant heart.
It is true that our prayers may be hindered by sin. We are saved from sin by believing in God, so why did Paul tell us to crucify our flesh daily if Jesus took our sins on His body?
Our flesh has not been redeemed. We are not to allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies.
James 5: 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another,
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
Unconfessed sin, even the smallest of sin, when not confessed and forgiven will hinder receiving an answer, for God will not hear it.
1 Tim. 2:1 Here are my directions: pray much for others, plead for God's mercy upon them,
I like this translation, for it says to give thanks for something we haven’t received yet. What did Jesus ask when the ten lepers were healed?
Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned,
Only one was thankful for his healing and he was a gentile. Jesus commended him for it and said…
Luke 17: 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"
I’m not sure if unthankfulness will hinder the answer to our prayers, but we should know that God expects it, even before we see it.
6. LACK OF PERSISTANCE
Remember how Elijah prayed seven times before he saw the evidence. And he didn’t pray a prayer today and stop, then come again the next day, praying seven different days. He kept praying until he saw the answer to his prayer.
Daniel prayed 21 days without ceasing, and the angel said God had sent the answer on the first day. But the angels from the dark side had hindered him. If Daniel had ceased praying, would the angel have returned to God thinking Daniel wasn’t sincere?
But on the other hand look at the persistent widow in the parable Jesus told of the widow and the unjust judge.
Luke 18: 4-8 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself,
Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
This widow troubled the judge by her daily persistence, and Jesus said, "Will not God avenge His elect speedily." We must be persistent in all our petitions.
Matt 6: 12, 14, 15 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors
I believe this is the number one hindrance. It seems so hard to forgive when we have been hurt or offended. Truly, it is hard, it is impossible when we try to ‘work it out’ ourselves. We cannot forgive in and of ourselves, but we are to turn it over to the Lord and forgiveness will come.
Jesus told us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray that God will forgive our sins even as we forgive others. He told us again in Mark…
Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
A selfish prayer will not be heard because you are putting self first. When we only pray for ourselves we tend to be critical of others. Sometimes it may not be so much what we are praying, but the wrong motive or attitude.
A lady once asked the pastor to pray for her husband’s salvation… right praying. She was asked why she wanted him saved. In simple terms, her reply was that it would simplify her life… wrong motive.
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss,
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you
When you have asked, believed, and received, the devil will come and put thoughts of doubt in your mind. If you entertain or keep these thoughts, you will begin to speak the thoughts. Then you are in his power again. You are speaking negative words, words that God did not say. Anything we say that doesn’t agree with what God said is a lie.
Never allow a mental picture of anything in your mind, except the answer to your prayer. Never doubt that God has not answered your prayer, even when you don’t see it in the natural. God hears and answers at the time you prayed. It just may take some time to arrive.
Continue to think on His promises, His Word, and give thanks knowing that it is on the way.
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Phil 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
You may think you can’t stop worrying. But you can, all things are possible in God. If you pray for anything and continue to worry about it, you are not praying according to God’s will, plus if you keep worrying after you have prayed, you do not believe that God is answering your prayer.
We have already learned that if we want our prayers answered, we must know the will of God, and the two scriptures above this says, don’t worry…give your cares to God.
1 John 5: 14 15 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything
11. LACK OF TRUST
1 Chron. 16:12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet,
And he died. Do you trust God in everything, with everything in your life? Asa was a good king but he didn’t seek the Lord for his healing. He trusted only in the physicians and physicians can not heal, they can only treat. God is the healer. We can go to a physician when we are ill, but go to God also.
12. NOT DISCERNING THE LORD’S BODY
1 Cor. 11:27-30 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
What does Paul mean by unworthy manner and not discerning the body of the Lord? We need to know, for this is why many are weak, sick and even have died.
From Vine’s dictionary we find: Unworthy is partaking of the Lord’s Supper, treating it as a common meal, the bread, and the cup as common things, not apprehending their solemn symbolic importance.
Manner is behavior…and Not Discerning is not being sensitive to what they represent.
If we don’t fully understand what the Lord’s Supper represents, that Jesus was purged and bled for our healing, we are guilty of eating unworthily and this is why many are weak, sick and even have die.
13. RECITING PRAYERS
Matt 6:7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetition as the heathen do.
Jesus is teaching on many things in this chapter. He repeatedly says do not do as the heathen or the hypocrites do.
Praying with ‘vain repetition’ is unproductive repeated words, praying the same things again and again. In this there is the concern of being sincere, praying from the heart, or praying from memory. Those who pray with wrong motives have there reward. Why one prays determines how one prays.
There is nothing wrong with repeating prayers. Jesus repeated a prayer in the garden, so he cannot be talking about repeating sincere prayers. Jesus is referring to empty recitation of words where there is always the chance that it is not sincere, a not from the heart prayer. It is possible to recite a prayer without even thinking of what we are praying.
So the condition of the heart is the important thing in our prayers. If we are not sincere we will not get the answer we desire.
14. FASTING AND PRAYER
Matt. 17:21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
Some situations are more difficult and need fasting along with the prayer. The disciples had prayed and could not get an answer to their prayer. When they ask Jesus why, He told them that it was because of their unbelief, however he added, this kind will not come our except by prayer and fasting.
Jesus didn’t suddenly see this as a hard cast and go out to fast. He was already prayed and ‘fasted up’. We too must devote ourselves to fasting on occasion as we pray. We never know when the ‘hard case’ will arise.
And please know, fasting has no effect on the demons, nor any sickness, fasting is done to help our faith. Jesus had already spent His time in prayer and fasting, His faith was strong, so the demons obeyed Him.
The condition of our hearts affects our prayers. Read the parable in Luke 18: 9-14. What is the attitude of the Pharisee, and that of the publican? Which did Jesus say went home justified?
The Pharisee exalted himself, self-righteous. The publican was humble, recognizing himself as a sinner. The humble man was justified, accepted… the self-righteous man was not.
We cannot approach God without recognizing the sin in our hearts, no matter how small it might seem. I believe the sin we commit most regularly is the sin of disbelief; not believing God’s Word, not believing what he speaks to our heart, or not believing what Jesus has already done for us, those provisions that we just need to believe and receive.
Even the little things, such as the words we speak which are contrary to His Word and provision. If we say anything other than what God says about us, we lie. Words such as… I feel so unworthy…I am so sick…I can’t…. Read the Word, study the Word, and believe the Word. See what Jesus has already given us.
As I was praying recently, I asked the Lord to reveal any hidden sin in me, as I usually do. He did…I had fear. I knew I was very nervous about a certain thing, but I hadn’t considered it a sin. I confessed it as sin, asked for forgiveness and went on with my praying. A few days later I began to be ‘nervous’ about something and remembered that I had been forgiven of my fears. So I just spoke to it, I told the devil, ‘I have confessed my fear as a sin and I have been forgiven. I will not receive fear again.’ Praise God I am free of fear.
Every day as we come to the Father, if we don’t already know, we should ask Him to reveal any sin that we need to confess. I’m not talking about the 10 commandment kind of sins, but the sins of flesh listed in Rom. 1:28-31, Eph. 4: 25-31 and Eph. 5: 3-4. These sins of the flesh may keep us from inheriting the Kingdom of God.
It’s the ‘little foxes that spoil the vine.’ Be obedient to cast off, repent, or whatever the case may be, to do what God tells us to do. Then, everyday, remember what you have been forgiven of and tell the accuser so.
As I am working on this lesson God keeps reminding me of a scripture He gave me long ago, and I didn’t follow through in obedience. I sinned against the Lord by not doing what he told me to do. It is my responsibility to repent and do that which He instructed me to do.
1 Sam 12: 23 … far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you;
What do we do when the Lord reveals sin in our lives? We confess our sins, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We diligently try to be obedient to all that He will tell us, whether in the written word, through a minister of the Word, or from an individual Word in our ear from the Father.
When we can recognize that God is everywhere, and that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwell in the believer, we are in the presence of God, and it should not be difficult to pray. We give Him heart felt praise and thanksgiving. We come to Him with joy. We don’t come to Him with our feelings; we come to Him expressing our gratitude for Who He is and what He has done. God deserves the very best we can give.
Please go on to part 5
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