Summary: There are those who bear testimony to the sad truth that thus far they have never received a definite answer to a prayer they have offered. Due to their failure to receive a specific answer, they are inclined to be skeptical about prayer. They have assu
Hindrances to Answered Prayer
There are those who bear testimony to the sad truth that thus far they have never received a definite answer to a prayer they have offered. Due to their failure to receive a specific answer, they are inclined to be skeptical about prayer. They have assumed the God does not answer prayer.
The failure to receive answers from God can be due to many things. Some think of prayer as a means by which they present their selfish requests to the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. They think of prayer only in terms of saying, “Gimmie, Gimmie.” They failed to recognize that prayer is the divinely ordained channel through which the child of God requisitions from the throne of grace those things that are essential in the work of the kingdom.
The scriptures teach that there are a number of different attitudes that can obstruct the answer to prayers that we might offer.
I. The text reveals that selfishness voids our prayer requests.
a. The scriptures teach that God is under no obligation and has made no promise to hear the selfish requests of his children
“James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.’ And He said to them, “What do you want ME to do for you?” They said to Him, Grant that we may sit, one of Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
II. Un-confessed and un-forsaken sin in the heart hinders prayer.
a. Psalm 66:18
“If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear…”
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; not 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.
“Your iniquities have turned these away, And your sins have withheld good from you.”
III. Giving God second place hinders prayer
a. Ezekiel 14:3
“Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all?”
b. When we permit anything or anyone to usurp the place that belongs to God in our hearts, we are automatically depriving ourselves of the privelge of receiving the needed blessings that can come from God through prayer.
IV. The mistreatment of a brother of sister can hinder prayer
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
b. One can be guilty of mistreating a brother or sister by not making restitution.
c. He cannot then offer acceptable worship and prayers before God.
d. When Zaccheus was converted, a part of his decision was to make restitution for any mistreatment that others had received at his hands.
V. The harboring of a grudge will deprive us of forgiveness.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”
b. Hate in the heart makes it impossible for one to receive and experience the forgiveness of God as long as there is no intention to forgive and to remove the grudge that is held against another.
c. This is one of the chief reasons why many prayers go unanswered.
Perhaps the greatest hindrances to prayer are not those that are present while we are praying, but rather those that keep us from even attempting to pray. The author of our text also said, “We have not because we ask not.” Our sinful lower nature does not encourage us to pray. The Devil will do all that he can to prevent us from praying. The pressures of a competitive world will crowd out prayer and prevent us form praying as we permit them to do so. God eagerly invites us to pray.