HINDRANCES TO PRAYER
Watch ye – and pray. Mark 14.38
Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to pray always for all necessary things, both for body and soul; and Paul bids Christian men to pray without ceasing or hindrance.
Christ said to His disciples, “If ye ask My Father anything in My name, He shall give it to you” and “If you give good things to your children . . . how much more shall your Father in Heaven give the Spirit to men that ask Him”.
Therefore, ask God for all heavenly things, such as grace, will, wisdom and power to serve and please Him, and not for worldly things, except what is necessary to sustain your life in truth and service of your God.
Here are ten hindrances to prayer – hindrances from which you may know why you are not always heard by God when you pray.
1. Personal Sin
The first hindrance to prayer is the sin of the person who prays. In Isaiah 1 God says, “When ye make many prayers I shall not hear, for your hands are full of blood” which means – your works are full of sin. And in Isaiah 59 we read: “Your sins have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He should not hear”. In Lamentations 3, “We have done wickedly . . . therefore thou mayest not be prayed to”.
David says in the Psalms, “If I behold wickedness in my heart -God shall not hear”.
The second hindrance to prayer is the doubt of the person who ways. In James 1 it is said, “Let a man ask in faith, nothing doubting, for he that doubteth is like to the wave of the sea which is driven of the wind and borne about. Let not that man think that he shall get anything from the Lord”. Bernard said, “He is proved unworthy to have heavenly blessings, who asks with doubts”.
3. Asking Wrongly
The third hindrance to prayer is that a person does not ask for thething he should be asking for. He asks for something which is wrong or of no value to him. In Matthew 20 it says, “Ye know not what ye ask”. Often believers are not heard when they ask that troubles and difficulties be taken away, as little children in schools sometimes pray that they may not be punished. Also in James 4 it is said, “Ye ask, and receive not, for you ask amiss.”
4. Asking Unworthily
The fourth hindrance to prayer may be the unworthiness of the thing for which we pray. God says, in Jeremiah 7.11, “Pray not thou
for this people … for I shall not hear thee”. And in Jeremiah 15 God says, “Though Moses and Samuel stand before me, my will is not to this people; cast them out from my face …”
The fifth hindrance to a person’s prayer is the multitude of stray and evil thoughts within him. In Genesis 15 Abraham drove away the birds, which is a picture to show that the man that prays must drive away the cluster of distracting and wrong thoughts.
6. Careless Asking
The sixth hindrance to prayer is an unteachable spirit – scant respect for God’s Law. In Proverbs 28 God says, “The prayer of him that hideth away his ear, so that he hears not the commands of God, shall be abominable, or cursed”. And in Proverbs 1, “They shall call Me to help”, says God, “and I shall not hear them; for they hate teaching and chastising”.
7. A Hard Heart
The seventh hindrance to prayer is hardness of heart. Some are unfeeling towards the needy, of whom it is said in Proverbs 21, “If a man stops his ear at the cry of a poor man, he shall cry and he shall not be heard”.
Some people are hard towards people who have offended against them and they will not forgive them. In Mark 2 Christ says, “When ye stand to pray, forgive – if you have anything against any man – so that your Father which is in Heaven forgives you your sins”. If you do not forgive others – neither shall your Father forgive you, and the same sentence is pronounced in Matthew 6.
8. Small Desires
The eighth hindrance to prayer is smallness of desire in seeing the prayer answered. David said, “I was still while I cried all day”. Augustine said, “God keeps an answer from you that you may learn to really desire great things” and Gregory said, “If we ask for everlasting life by mouth and do not desire it in heart, we cry – but might as well be dumb”.
The ninth hindrance to prayer is impatience in the person who prays. In 1 Samuel 28 Saul asked counsel of the Lord impatiently and the Lord did not answer, so Saul in his impatience said, “Seek ye to me a woman with a familiar spirit”.
10. No Perseverance
The tenth hindrance is the absence of perseverance in prayer. In Luke 11 Christ says, “If a man continues knocking at the door, the friend (that is God) shall rise and give him as many loaves as he needeth”. Again He says, in Luke 18, that it behoves us to pray ever and not to stop; and Augustine says, “If prayer is not removed, you can be sure that mercy is not removed”.
Here you have ten hindrances to prayer well grounded in Scripture with which it is good to search your conscience so that your prayers are not hindered.
If we live and do these things that are pleasing to God, then peace shall surround us and be our security. We shall not fear the fiery darts of the devil, the flesh shall no longer be against the spirit and we shall not fear troubles.
Encouragement to Pray
Therefore let us hasten to repentance and let the last day be ever before our eyes. Let us refrain from vices and wrong desires and make our hearts think of heavenly things.
Therefore let us despise all things that are vain, and failing -turning away from vices to virtues.
Nor let insincere words come out of your mouths for we shall give account for idle words on the day of Judgement.
Use the fellowship of saved men, for the words of men that fear God are words of Life and Holiness to them that hear and understand them.
Shun proud men, envious men, backbiters, liars, and men who despise salvation and are dead to virtues – who have pleasure in their lusts. Shun them if you cannot dissuade them from their error, for by one sick sheep all the flock is defiled.
Everything you think about doing, first think of in relation to God and examine carefully if it is of God. Also, be aware of each temptation to sin in word or deed; in thought, or with hand; in sight, or hearing, and so keep the body and the soul.
“Lord give me grace to hold righteousness in all things, spiritual holiness and self control, and make simpleness to be careful in me, that I lead a clean and blessed life and carefully flee evil. And that I may understand the treacherous and deceitful falseness of the devil, lest he beguiles me under the sham of goodness; make me mild, willing for good, peaceable, courteous and temperate, without deceit and make me steadfast and strong in prayers”.