Successful Prayer (Is your prayer hindered; steps to correct)
Does God always hear prayers? First let us note, He desires to listen and Christ has bridged the gap of sin that separates us from God.
However, God loves us enough that He wants us to approach Him in a right relationship or seeking forgiveness for any unconfessed sin.
As such, it is always good to approach God realizing our need for forgiveness and our desire to offer thanks for mercy and grace.
What does the Old Testament say about approaching God with sin in our lives?
Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
What does the New Testament say?
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Looking at the Old and New Testaments it is obvious that God wants us to seek Him from a perspective of our appreciation of mercy and grace and acknowledging any sin in our lives.
Perhaps a good start to unhindered prayer should be to realize we need to seek God with a heart of humility, repentance and thanksgiving of mercy and grace.
Let us look at things that could hinder our prayer life, and understand them; the good news is that we will know what to do in our lives and prayers. Even before we look at these, keep in mind that the grace and mercy that comes from God is greater than we can fully understand; God always stands ready to forgive and listen to us. Let's also remember Christ has atoned for our sins. Let’s look at 6 things:
I - Unconfessed Sin.
Being in a relationship with God is important.He has saved us and called us into a relationship with Him. As part of that relationship, we should be mindful that He is not only full of grace and mercy, but He is Holy.
Sin separates us from God, but Jesus Christ brings us into fellowship with God based on what He has done. We are told that when we sin, we have an advocate and mediator with God who is Jesus Christ.
The great promise from God:
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
Instead of allowing sin to cloud our conscious or interfere with our prayer life; let us ALWAYS in our prayers, practice asking God for forgiveness.
According to Scripture, all our sin was paid for when we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of us. 2nd Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” When we make that divine exchange at the cross, God chooses to see us as righteous. It is not our righteousness but the righteousness of Christ that God sees.
Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,”
We have the full approval and acceptance of God through Jesus Christ but we also have a responsibility to confess our sins as part of our relationship with God.
II - Lack of Faith (Doubting)
The Bible says we should trust that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”.
This is VERY positive for us to know that God blesses our obedience to Him, even in prayer. Let our hope and faith be strong.
James 1:6 “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind”.
III – Unwilling to Forgive.
God is looking for us to show others mercy and grace, He does for us, and we are to do the same.
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
Be ready to forgive over and over again.
Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Let me break the news to you, you are not the only person that has to forgive other people; we all deal with the same things; it’s a choice to forgive.
Matthew 5:23,24 says "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
IV – Little Regard for Others (especially the Poor).
We are not only supposed to love people but part of that love is to care about the burdens that people have. We are to regard and respect both the poor and the rich.
Proverbs 21:13 says "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard."
V – Wrong Motives (you must honor and glorify God).
Ask for the things in God's will, the outcome of which is to honour and glorify God. James 4:3 says "You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."
This should not preclude us from asking for good things because God says make all things known in prayer and supplication.
VI – Lack of Asking.
You have not because you ask not.
Matthew 7:7-12 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Note: This blog is not intended to address the full scope of whether God hears or doesn't but is a means to help us offer unhindered prayers. The other topic will be through another blog.
Although I will offer Christ intercedes for us and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don't know what to pray even forgiveness.
As a Christian we should grow in our prayer life to where acknowledging sin is a normal part of our prayers which just makes good sense.