|Series Theme: Prayer|
Title: 5. Hindrances to Prayer
Sometimes prayer is not all it could be and it seems lifeless, legalistic and we see no answers. In this part we consider some of the reasons why sometimes it doesn't seem to be working out. We have covered some of these things in previous Parts but we'll bring them together under one heading here.
1. Not Praying
1.1 The PrincipleIt perhaps seems almost too obvious to state, but if you don't pray you don't see answers. In Jas 4:2 we are told that we don't get because we don't ask. Perhaps we started praying but then gave up. The verbs in the Greek in Mt 7:7 indicate that we should ask and keep on asking and then it will be given to us.
1.3 Our Response
The purpose of these Seminars is to encourage you back into a place where prayer has a meaningful part in your life. There needs to be within each one of us a clear commitment that with God's help we are going to get through on this one and become a people of joy in prayer.
2. Sin & Satan
Isa 59:2 reminds us that unconfessed and blatant sin separates us from God and therefore will hinder us from praying effectively. Psa 66:18 similarly confirms this. Virtually all the things that follow involve sin in some shape or form.
We also need to recognise that our enemy, Satan, will also want to keep us from praying and that it is a battle! He will probably do this by discouraging words to help bolster existing unbelief.
3.1 Unbelief hinders
In Mk 6:5 we see that Jesus himself was hindered in what he could do because of the unbelief and lack of faith in his home town. In Mt 9:23-25 Jesus cleared out all the unbelievers before he raised up Jairus's daughter. The apostle Peter later did the same thing when he prayed for Dorcas (Acts 9:39,40). Unbelief clearly hinders both the Lord and us.
3.2 Taking Action against Unbelief
If we are aware that we are lacking faith, we need to:
a) acknowledge that before God and
b) ask Him to release faith is us and
c) determine to be wherever prayer is going on and
d) make a time slot in the day to pray and
e) respond to Part 3, paragraph 4 on discipline and
f) declare the word of God before God (a particularly strong antidote to unbelief)
4. Wrong Praying
4.1 Wrong Motivation
What are wrong motives?
a) Jas 4:3 says self centred ones - to get for our own benefit.
b) Misunderstanding a situation may also bring wrong motivation
c) Thinking we have the mind of Christ, when we don't
d) We have just been mistaken (it happens to all of us!)
4.2 Little Children
When we are young Christians God, our heavenly Father, understands that we are but little children and as such we tend towards childishness. He understands and doesn't get upset when we are like this.
4.3 Growing into maturity
This is what the Lord wants for us. We grow up into understanding more of His will and His ways and we pray more and more in accordance with these (see Part 2 - Praying Aright).
5. Wrong Relationships
In Mk 11:25 we see Jesus warning us to ensure we don't hold unforgiveness in our hearts when we pray. Similarly in Mt 6:12,14,15 Jesus speaks very strongly about the need to forgive.
5.2 Unresolved Disputes
Similarly Jesus teaches us that if we seek to approach God while we still have unresolved disputes (see Mt 5:23,24), we should first go and become reconciled with the one with whom we have the dispute.
5.3 Treatment of Partners
In 1 Pet 3:7 the apostle Peter warns husbands that inconsiderate treatment of partners can also hinder our praying, and so this is a further area where we need to be careful.
6. Refusing the Will of God
There will be times when God requires us to DO something further, and not only pray. On those occasions if we are unwilling to be the answer or the partial answer to our prayers then obviously they will not get answered.
Isaiah 58 is a classic chapter showing how a religious people can be apparently doing religious things, like praying and fasting, and yet failed to do the very things that God wanted. On occasion Jeremiah was told NOT to pray by God because the people refused to do God's will and therefore God would NOT hold back his anger, despite Jeremiah's praying (see Jer 7:16, 11:14 and 14:11)
7. Lack of Love
Jesus instructed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44,45). The indication there is that essentially there is to be no one that we don't love. God is love (1 Jn 4:8,16) and His Holy Spirit is thus a Spirit of Love. We cannot expect the Spirit of Love to lead us if He fails to find love in us.
The love we need is first for God and then for others. We won't love others if we don't love God and we can't truly love God if we don't love others. Our praying should, therefore, always flow out of a heart of love.
8. Prayer Problems
8.1 When NOT to Pray
Jer 14:11 “Do not pray for the well-being of this people”
Why? v.10 They wander (to idols) - wickedness - sins
v.12 He's determined to destroy
Isa 1:15 “even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen”
Why? v.15 Your hands are full of blood
v.16 Doing wrong
8.2 When Prayer doesn't get answered as we expect
e.g.Lk 6:12 Jesus spent a night in prayer
v.13 he chose the twelve
Lk 22:42 if you are willing take this cup from me
v.44 prayed in anguish
Jn 17:21 that all of them may be one & v.22,23
Our objective in considering these matters is to ensure nothing hinders our praying. Take a few moments to sit silently, letting the Holy Spirit show you if any of these things hinder you.