We Proclaim Jesus.
Prayer is God's idea and must therefore be answered according to His standards. God wants us to be able to receive answers to prayer, for each answer we receive brings glory and praise to Him. Further, God desires for His children to know Him increasingly better. Through prayer and answers to prayer we come to know God, growing in our understanding of His heart and character.
However, this goal is often not attained because hindrances block our progress. The term translated hindrance is from the Greek noun egkope, which means hindrance or obstacle. The verb form egkopto means to prevent, to detain, to thwart or to weary. Most hindrances are caused by us, never by God. The one exception is that which comes from Satan, our archenemy, whose aim is to keep us from doing damage to his kingdom through our prayers.
Why would God reveal hindrances to prayer in His Word? He does so because each generation of God's people need to learn from and avoid the mistakes of the past. We need to realize that our hearts have wicked and wrong desires, so we will seek to be transformed by God and desire more of what delights His heart.
"Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).
|R.A. Torrey writes: "Anyone who finds his prayers ineffective should not conclude that the thing which he asks of God is not according to His will, but should go alone with God with the psalmist’s prayer, 'Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me' (Psalm 139:23-24), and wait before Him until He puts His finger upon the thing that is displeasing in His sight. Then this sin should be confessed and put away."|
|2. Setting up idols in our hearts|
"Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols" (Ezekiel 14:3-5).
|R.A. Torrey wrote: "One great question for us to decide, if we would have power in prayer is, Is God absolutely first? Is He before wife, before children, before reputation, before business, before our own lives? If not, prevailing prayer is impossible."|
"You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).
|4. Stubbornness of heart|
"As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me, for I do not hear you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?... But this command I gave them, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all My servants the prophets to them, day after day; yet they did not listen to Me, or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers" (Jeremiah 7:16-26; cf. 11:7-17 and 13:8-11;14:11-16).
|5. Stinginess and shutting one's ear to the cry of the poor|
"He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered" (Proverbs 21:13).
"He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6).
"Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you " (Luke 6:38).
|R.A. Torrey wrote: "When one thinks of the selfishness of the professing church today, how the orthodox [evangelical] churches of this land do not average one dollar per year per member for foreign missions, it is no wonder that the church has little power in prayer."|
|6. Spirit of unforgiveness|
"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your heavenly Father who is in heaven forgive your transgression" (Mark 11:25; see also Matthew 6:14-15; Proverbs 21:13).
|7. Strained relationships|
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors... For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:12, 14-15; cf. 18:21-35).
"You husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as fellow heir, so that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7).
|8. Selective listening to the Word of God|
"He who turns his ear away from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination" (Proverbs 28:9; cf. Mark 11:25; Matthew 6:14-15; Proverbs 21:13).
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8).
"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
|10. Satanic hindrances|
"Then he said to me, Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia" (Daniel 10:12-13).
B. Overcoming Inner Hindrances to Effective Prayer
|1. Most hindrances to effective prayer come from ourselves.|
|2. Confession is the way to overcoming hindrances to effective prayer.|
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
|3. Confession should involve the following:|
C. Overcoming Satanic Hindrances to Effective Prayer
"Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places"(Ephesians 6:10-12).
|1. We are to be strong in Christ and the strength of His might while facing satanic hindrance.|
|2. We are not to fear, for God is the overall victor and greater than Satan.|
|3. Christ has disarmed and triumphed over Satan and his forces (see Colossians 2:15).|