As Christians we sometimes become discouraged and do not have the kind of appreciation and expectancy that ought to characterize the prayers we pray. Surely we recognize such a state as this to be a problem. Recognizing a problem is one of the first steps toward solving a problem. For the faithful Christian, the source for answers to our problems is God’s word, the Bible.
Satan is very aware of the power of prayer. There is nothing that he fears more than a Christian who finds much time for prayer. He will lay before us many roadblocks to hinder our approach to God in prayer. Satan does have his devices. He will use them to create doubt in our hearts regarding the power of prayer. We must be like Paul and be aware of Satan’s devices (2 Cor 2:11).
Consider the roadblock of PRIDE. Pride manifests in self-trusting; self-sufficiency; self-glorying; self-service; self-will; and self-righteousness. One of the best examples of this hindrance in action is the Pharisee of Luke 18:9-14. He spent his entire prayer talking about how good he was. He spoke of how much better he was than anyone else. These kinds of attitudes and these kinds of prayers are not received well by our Lord. Jesus noted the contrast between the Pharisee and the publican and gave commendation to the publican, who recognized himself to be a sinner (Lk 18:14).
We need to spend a little time looking into the history of God’s dealing with His people in the Old Testament. Here we will find that there were times when the people became lifted up with pride. They thought they could do it all on their own. Those were the times when the judgment of God came upon them. They had the same need as we have today and that is to see that our sufficiency is OF GOD (2 Cor 3:5). Pride will keep us trying to solve our problems on our own. Pride will hinder us from turning to God in prayer.
Another huge roadblock in the way of having our prayers answered is simple DISOBEDIENCE. What was it Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:9? “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” If we are not obedient to our God how can we expect Him to hear our prayers? Without obedience there can be no communion with God. Sins of disobedience place distance between us and our God (Isa 59:1-2). It will be necessary to do those things which are pleasing in His sight (1 Jn 3:22) to be blessed with the privilege of praying to our God in heaven. Seriously, can we think of any activity that is considered such a great privilege and pleasure here that we deem it worthy to deprive ourselves of this privilege of prayer to God?
In addition, the Bible teaches us that our prayers are hindered by IDOLATRY. In Ezekiel 14:1-11, there is a fine discussion of the folly and fruitlessness of having idols in the heart and seeking to petition God. The fact is that our God is a JEALOUS God (Ex 20:5). He demands our complete loyalty (Mt 6:24). We are to keep ourselves from idols (1 Jn 5:21). When we allow our loyalty to become divided and we begin to love the world or the things it contains we are loving things that are not of God (1 Jn 2:15-17). When we love things that are not of God, most likely we won’t even try to communicate with Him. Even if we do, He won’t be listening.
Please consider the hindrance which Satan loves to create and has such success with: DOUBT. If we study the first chapter of 1 Samuel we will see that God answered the prayers of Hannah. She prayed for a son and was granted a son. God will answer our prayers as well. But how does God answer prayer? Generally speaking, the Scriptures show us that God answers prayer in five ways…
- YES (James 5:17).
- NO (Mt 26:39; Heb 5:7).
- WAIT A WHILE (Jer 42:4, 7).
- SOMETHING DIFFERENT (2 Cor 12:7-9).
- BY GIVING MORE (1 Kgs 3:11, 13; Eph 3:20).
To create doubt regarding the power of prayer is one of Satan’s most effective tools to weaken us. We must know better and then elevate our practice to our knowledge.
We find a seldom considered hindrance to prayer in 1 Peter 3:7. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” It is important to the Lord how we treat our companions in marriage. Is it the case that my prayer life seems to be suffering? Perhaps I need to look into how I am treating my wife/husband. If we do not consider the will of the Lord in our homes, our homes are not going to be the kinds of places we will want them to be.
In addition, the Lord warns us that a spirit of UNFORGIVENESS will hurt our efforts in prayer. If we pray to God for forgiveness and we have demonstrated an unforgiving spirit, we will have no forgiveness (Mt 6:12-14).
Other matters such as not hearing the cries of the poor (Prov 21:13) and not being persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8) also hinder our prayers. These are obstacles over which we can soar, if we have the will so to do!
Consider Wade Webster’s powerful lesson regarding POWERLESS PRAYERS.