Summary: There are a number of things which may hinder prayer from being answered. Scripture gives some things to check.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
July 20, 3003
“When Prayer is Not Working--Some things to Check”
INTRODUCTION: A father and his 10 year old son were looking at books one day at WalMart. His father said, “Here’s an interesting book,” ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Prayer.’”
The son quickly replied, “Dad, you don’t need to read that book. It’s only for idiots.”
All kind of books have been written about prayer. Most people say they believe in prayer and most Christians want to have a good prayer life. We want to feel that our prayers make a difference and that we’re not talking just to be talking. We want to know that God hears our prayers and is paying attention to them.
But sometimes have you ever felt like they were not getting through? That they were just bouncing off the ceiling or like there is a wall between you and God that you just can’t get through?
People say, “My prayers just don’t reach God.” Sometimes people will come up with pat answers like, “If you had enough faith, your prayer would be answered,” or “if you were praying in the RIGHT WAY,” you would see results. There is no one reason why prayers are not working, so when you or others are struggling with prayer, don’t be so quick to come up with that “classic answer.”
Scripture helps us to check and see where the problem is. Today’s scripture mentions one of these problems that breaks the communication line, but first I want to look at some other things that can be considered Prayer Circuit Breakers.
A Circuit breaker in your house is an electrical device that interrupts the flow of electricity from one site to the other. Prayer Circuit Breakers are things in our life that interrupts or hinders our communication with God.
“When Prayer is Not Working--Some Things to Check”--I found several things that may be identified as the problem for us. It is not just that we don’t have enough faith or that we are not praying with the right prayer formula. And these are all things that can be corrected.
Let’s see what we can come up with that will help us to pray more effectively.
1. A Disregard for God’s Law: About 500 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Zechariah recorded these words from the Lord:
“but they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. [The people of Israel have] made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord was very angry. ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen’ says the Lord (Zechariah 7:11-13).
Rejecting or ignoring God’s laws is one circuit breaker that causes our prayers to be hindered. This scripture written many hundreds of years ago is still applicable for us today. We need to check up to see where we are outright rejecting what scripture tells us we should be putting into practice in our daily lifestyle. So many Christians are living no different from the world that they don’t seem to realize the difference between right and wrong. God’s laws have been modified and changed so drastically that they are not recognizable by many people. Maybe you say, “I’m not rejecting them outright. I’m just ignoring them. I know what I SHOULD DO and what God REALLY WANTS me to do, but I’m just not doing it. Sometimes we think, “Oh, well, God is merciful. He’ll overlook what I do. And we go on our merry way.”
Rejecting or ignoring the laws of God leaves a bad taste in His mouth. In Proverbs King Solomon said, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable” (Proverbs 28:9).
The Message Bible says, “God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him.”
A sinful lifestyle with unconfessed sin, deliberately going on in this pattern of ignoring or rejecting God’s laws will clog up the flow of our answer. Psalm 66:16-20 says, “If I had CHERISHED sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
The Psalmist is praising God for his forgiveness and letting others know that if he CHERISHED or tolerated sin in his heart that God wouldn’t have listened. The idea of CHERISHED sin is where you know something is downright wrong, downright sin and you hang on to it anyway. You are making a HOME for your sin by HARBORING it.