Summary: If prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective then why do so people go day after day asking, seeking and knocking and yet do not receive an answer to their prayers? Read this sermon to find out 7 barriers to prayer and how to overcome them
Seven Barriers to Effective Prayer
James 4:3, 5:16
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
If prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective then why do so people go day after day, month after month, year after year asking, seeking and knocking and yet do not receive an answer to their prayers? Even knowing that we are looking through the specks of sinful eyes and carnal hearts with impure motives, it is still extremely difficult to hear the word “NO” from our heavenly Father. If hearing “NO” was not difficult enough to accept what about all those times when one prays for those things that will bring glory to God or help one spiritually grow and yet all one receives is silence? During these long “draughts” of speech from God one can’t help but wonder what is keeping God from fulfilling His promise to work for the good of those who love Him! Upon closer examination of our lives it is very humbling to find out that the barriers that keep one’s prayers from being answered were constructed by “ME.” How humbling it is to find out that my prayerlessness, my unconfessed sin, my unresolved relational conflict, my selfishness, my uncaring attitude and my inadequate faith are the barriers that keep “ME” from hearing from God! Today’s sermon is going to review these barriers and what to do when we are going through a prayerless season in our life.
Barrier #1: Not Hearing the Word “NO”
When I was growing up I remember watching a circus show on TV. The host and hostess were good looking, charismatic and in my opinion well dressed. I was so impressed with their charisma that I began to think, “if only I could look like the male host then maybe I would be as popular!” The host wore a black top hat, a red jacket with sparkles with a tail in the back and tight pants. My mother was an exceptional seamstress that had made many impressive clothes, so one day I asked her if she would make me an exact replica this outfit! To my surprise she said “NO.” I explained to her that with such a glorious outfit, like a circus ringmaster I would be able to command the respect of my fellow students. I begged and pleaded every time we watched the show and yet the answer was still “NO.” She told me that the outfit would invite ridicule not popularity and that there were more sensible things I could wear. To this day I am so very thankful that my mother had the wisdom to tell this young foolish boy “NO” for I am sure it saved me many hours of grief and therapy!
No matter much we beg for a “YES,” inappropriate prayer requests will always receive a “NO” response. No matter how many times one asks God to make one rich, do not be surprised when God says “NO,” true riches are not earthly ones in which moths and vermin destroy (Mathew 6:19-21) but crowns of righteousness that are eternal (2 Timothy 4:8). No matter how many times one asks God to smite down one’s enemies, do not be surprised to be like James and John and hear the word “NO,” justice will come but for now grace is to be given (Luke 9:51-58). No matter how many times one asks God to make one either a pastor, prophet, teacher or evangelist (Ephesians 4:11-13); do not be surprised when God says “NO,” I did not give you the spiritual gifts needed to be effective in that role! It is not that God never makes people rich, smites down their enemies or support them in a desired ministry but merely that selfish requests intended to gratify one’s desires receive a “NO” answer because they are not focused on bringing glory to God the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16; James 4:1-3). Also, any request that does not align with the will of God will receive an answer “NO” (1 John 5:14). “NO” is a prayer barrier because we often refuse to hear this response from God and therefore conclude He went silent, which in turn decreases our desire to pray!
Barrier #2: Prayerlessness
The second barrier to not receiving answers to prayers is simply not praying! Have you had someone tell you the “gut wrenching” details of a problem they are facing, and you instantly tell them you are going to pray for them, but you never do? Ever go to counselling, self-help books, claim Biblical promises or seek advice from a friend for a problem that you are facing and then wonder why you never find a solution? How do you think it makes God feel when you only talk to Him when all else fails? And how many Christians simply give up praying because they received in their minds one too many “NO’s” or “NOT YET’s” and as a result either don’t believe God is listening or they don’t believe He cares for them? James tells us that we do not get what we want because we do not ask God! While the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us in wordless groans” (Romans 8:26), this does not negate the command for us personally to make our petitions known to God (Philippians 4:6) through prayer without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16)! How much time one spends in prayer usually affects how often one gets answered!