In last week’s article I discussed the idea that Christians have a responsibility to pray for those who are in authority, no matter who is in authority. Paul and Peter were not able to vote as to who would be their leaders, and they certainly had to suffer at the hands of these rulers – Jewish and secular.
Over and over, we see commands and encouragement to pray. Prayer to God is a part of worship – it shows that we are in need of his help, and we can pray to God about anything in our lives. It denotes a relationship with God. When we trust God totally and fully, we have the freedom and opportunity to pray to God about any and everything that we need and desire, but also to share our hearts with Him. He knows our discouragements, our joys, our problems, our heartaches. . . and he cares!
Why don’t Christians pray? What are some things that causes us to be hindered in our prayers?
WANDERING ATTENTION! Whether at home or at worship, there are many things that get in our way of prayer. Perhaps we are thinking about what we need to be doing. Perhaps we are in prayer, and someone interrupts us. Perhaps, while in worship, a child may be upset, and we can’t seem to focus. Satan will always find ways to keep us from having a deep relationship with the Father.
Prayer demands the strictest attention. We must fix our minds on God and His will and expect an answer when we pray (this is what faith believes, and acts upon). Sometimes concentration is not hard because problems are pressing, and we don’t know what to do. WE WANT, SEEK, DESIRE God’s help. But we do know that praying daily is hard and it is easy to get distracted. One man wrote, “He can only bow the knee in the right spirit and hold real fellowship with God, who is able to throw off all temporal affairs like a loose garment, and free from distracting thoughts address himself to God.”
PERSISTENCY IN SIN. When we persist in sin it is impossible for us to reach God in prayer. In Isaiah 59:1-2 Isaiah wrote, “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden his face from you, SO THAT HE WILL NOT HEAR.” In Proverbs 28:9, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (Psalms 66:18). If we persist in sin, it will soon destroy all desire to pray to God. Persistence in sin negates faith. Persistence in sin hardens our hearts – Hebrews 3:12-13, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called today “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
ASKING AMISS. “When our motive for praying is only temporal or material – when we seek not God’s glory, nor seek to use God’s blessings to help the poor, distressed and afflicted – when a person seeks only these things to satisfy and satiate his own pleasures, his prayers will go unanswered.” What are we asking for? And why are we asking for it? We must examine our motive for asking for temporal things. We may practice self-deception and be mistaken about our real motives when we pray and ask for material things. Further, consider that God is our Father, and he knows what we need before we ask. Sometimes he grants us our requests, at other times he says no. Do we have enough faith in him to trust that he is doing what is best for us always?
MARITAL DISCORD. When a husband does not dwell with his wife according to knowledge and fails to love her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:22-33) then prayers will be hindered. He must treat his wife with respect and honor. When a wife does not submit to her husband, their prayers will be hindered (1 Peter 3:1-7). 1 Peter 3:7 then states this, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Peter suggests the idea that the husband and wife should pray together; yet when there are problems and troubles in the home, the prayer will be hindered.
UNRIGHTED WRONGS. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, “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.” (Matthew 5:23-24). When the Jews offered sacrifices, they had to make sure that when they offered an offering, they had to be at peace with those that they had offended, lest the sacrifice be worthless. “If we be on praying terms with God, we must be decent terms with men.” Associated with this is the idea of forgiveness. When we came to God in Christ, all of our sins were forgiven by his blood – fully, completely and finally. If we are to be like God, we must forgive those who have sinned against us! If we fail to do that, then obviously our prayers are hindered.
Beloved, our relationship with God is SO IMPORTANT! As we live here on earth, we need all of the help we can get. WE NEED GOD and we need to make sure that our prayers are heard.