Summary: We tend to pose a big "why" to God when our prayers are not answered. The problem is not with God, but with us.
The Hindrances of Prayer
1) We believe that God has not changed in the passing of time. He is the same God who remains faithful to His words; He is the same God who answers the prayers of His people today as much as He answered the prayers of the O.T & N.T saints.
2) I heard hundreds of people who testified that God really answers prayers. I read hundreds of testimonies under the column of “Answered Prayers”.
3) Notwithstanding, I also know a lot of people who revealed their doubts, their confusions, their questions and their inquiries why God remained silent with and to their pleas. In my own prayer list, I have of a lot of prayers that I put under the column of “Unanswered Prayers”.
4) “Why?” We tend to pose this big question before God. But the problem is not with God; the problem lies in us!
5) There are four general reasons why our prayers are not answered:
a) We might have asked the wrong thing;
b) We might have asked in the wrong ground;
c) We might have asked in the wrong way;
d) Or it might a plain denial of God for a deeper and better reason.
-the first 3 speak of hindrances, the last of God’s infinite wisdom.
6) Now let’s specify the reasons why our prayers are hindered. What are the hindrances of prayer according to the Scriptures?
1. David said: “If I cherish sin in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
2. Isaiah said: “…your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.”(Isa.59: 2)
3. Solomon said: “He who conceals his sins will not prosper.”
4. The principle is quite plain: “Those who continue to delight in sin will be in trouble with his relationship with God. His prayers will not only be hindered, he is also in danger of becoming permanently separated from God.”
5. In contrary, Psalm 37: 4 says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall grant thee the desires of your heart.”
6. What is the remedy of this? 1 John 1:9
B. Unbelief & Doubt.
1. The Lord told His disciples to “have faith in God” for anything they ask for in prayer. (Mark 11:22-24).
2. In Hebrews we are told that to please God we must believe in Him. (Heb.11: 6)
3. In his letter, James told his readers to “ask in faith without doubting”. We should not be double-minded. (Jas.1: 5-8).
4. People’s unbelief hindered Christ to do great miracles in his hometown. (Mark 6: 5-6).
5. Prayer offered in faith will be much honored by God.
6. Faith is to have the assurance and confidence that God will fulfill His promises in His Word. Doubt, on the other hand, is being uncertain of God’s willingness and ability to answer prayer.
7. God is infinite and His power is without limitations. But He chose to limit Himself by our response to Him. He seeks to demonstrate His strength and power in and through us, but only when we allow Him to work in us.
C. Inconsistency to God’s Will.
1. In the context of prayer, this simply means, “asking the wrong thing” (James 4:3).
2. How to know that our prayer is consistent to His Will?
· It must be consistent to God’s nature and character.
a. Holiness –God will never give you anything that would lead you to impurity and sin. Any prayer request motivated by lust, sensuality, or sinful passion is against the Will of the Holy God.
b. Love & mercy –God is a very loving and a merciful God. He will never pay attention to prayer requests that are expressed to Him out of anger, hatred, jealousy & envy.
c. See for example Balaam and King Balak’s case in the book of Numbers, from chapter 22 to 24. Balak paid prophet Balaam to pray and pronounce curse upon Israel. God’s answer was not in favor to them. In fact, God commanded Balaam to pronounce blessing, instead of curse, upon Israel.
d. God is not in favor of answering prayers that are motivated with selfish interests.
e. Paul gave us a very wonderful advice in Phil. 4: 8 which will serve to screen not only our thoughts but also our motives in prayer.
f. What God said to the eldest son of Adam, Cain, will also give us a solemn principle in prayer. Cain and his brother Abel sacrificed a burnt offering to the Lord. God accepted the offering of Abel but rejected Cain’s. This made Cain so furious but God said to him: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?”
· It must be according to our needs.
a. Jesus said: “No father would ever give a snake to his son who asked for fish, or a scorpion for an egg.” (Luke 11:11-12) It is always according to your need.