prayerPower “Hindrances to prayer”
Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel
You don’t have to be a believer very long until you come upon times when you feel that your prayers are not going anywhere. You pray but your words seem to hit the ceiling, or you may be praying regularly but God does not seem to answer.
It may be sin that is hindering. A person may pray and pray without receiving an answer and conclude that the problem is with God. In reality, the problem may be in the person’s heart. David understood this when he wrote, If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18).
When sin blocks prayer, the real problem is not that we have sinned but that we have not repented. It is only unconfessed sins, cherished in our hearts, that inhibits our prayers.
A.W. Tozer, popular writer and pastor of a half-century ago, said: “When we go to God with a request that he modify the existing situation for us, that is that he answer prayer, there are two conditions that we must meet: (1) We must pray in the will of God, and (2) We must be on what old-fashioned Christians often called ‘praying ground.’ That is, we must be living lives pleasing to God.”
In 1 John 3:21-22, the author reminds us: Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
Sin in our lives condemns us. Not that we have lost our salvation, but if we refuse to deal with sin the access to God becomes cut off.
If we make confession a part of our daily prayers; asking God the Holy Spirit to show us anything that is displeasing in our lives, he quickly brings it to our minds so we can confess it. Then we have the assurance of God’s forgiveness.
Billy Graham was once asked what changed in his life that caused his ministry to explode. He named three things, one of which was that he learned to daily confess his own sins.
God promises, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
And when we do this we will immediately sense that the channel between ourselves and God is clear, and we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
An interesting fact is that not only does sin hinder prayer; prayer hinders sin. The two are always opposed. The more careless we are about sin, the less we will pray. The more we pray, the less careless we will be about sin. Both sin and prayer are powerful forces.
Each time we go to prayer may we be able to say with David: God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
As you begin your journey into seeking to pray his will, here are four tips:
1. Determine not to pray the first thing that comes to mind over a situation. That may be what you are eventually led to pray, but fight the tendency to automatically go there first.
2. Seek God for what his will might be. If you are not led to pray anything specific, look for some Scriptures that you know would be God’s will in the situation.
3. Don’t stop praying until you feel God is giving you a sense of release over the situation. God more quickly reveals his will to those whom he knows will obey it.