Prayer is godly, beneficial and necessary. I hope your prayer life has been jump-started this week, and that you have a deeper burning desire to be in constant, effective prayer.
Now, we all know that genuine prayer has the power to accomplish great things. In truth, there is no limit to the potential of prayer, James 5:16; Matt. 17:20. However, while prayer is unlimited in it’s potential, it can be severely hindered or even rendered totally ineffective. I want to take time to point out some attitudes and activities that can and do create problems in our praying. Today, we will talk about the Problems of Prayer.
I. James 4:3 SELFISHNESS
Anytime we bring a prayer before the Lord that is based on wrong motives, we can be certain that it will fail. We must be certain that our prayers are for His glory, 1 Cor. 10:31, and that our motives are pure. (His kingdom must be paramount in our thoughts.)
II. Ezekiel 14:3 IDOLATRY
An idol is anything or anyone that takes God’s place in our lives or weakens our dependence upon Him to any degree. He is to have the first place and anything that comes before Him is an idol. (People’s idea of what an idol is!) (Some very real idols in our society – any idea, object, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, loyalty or person that lessens our loyalty to God.) (Alan Redpath, “Our God is the person we think most precious, for whom we would make the greatest sacrifice, and who moves our heart with the greatest love. He, or it, is the person who, if we lost him, would leave us desolate.” Unless God is in the Number 1 position, our prayer life will be hindered. (He will not share His glory with another – Ex. 20:1; Isa. 42:8.
III. Mark 11:25 UNFORGIVENESS
God forgives and He expects His people to be in the forgiving business as well – Eph. 4:32. Any other response by the child of God will prove to be a hindrance to effective praying.
IV. Psa. 66:18; Isa. 59:2 UNCONFESSED SIN
The primary hindrance to prayer is found in the area of unconfessed, unrepented of sin. Even though we have been saved and forgiven, unconfessed prayer will still come between the Lord and us. (We are justified by faith, we continue in fellowship by confession – 1 John 1:9) All sin in our lives must be brought into the light of God’s judgment – Pro. 28:13. You may have unconfessed sin in your life that is hindering you today. You may be committing a sin and not even realize that you are sinning, but it is hindering your prayer life, It is making the heavens appear to be brass. Perhaps we need to pray as the Psalmist did – Psa. 139:23-24.
V. 1 Pet. 3:7 PROBLEMS IN THE HOME
When there is a problem between a husband and a wife, or between the occupants in the home, effective prayer will be hindered! (Literally “one flesh” When there is a break in fellowship, we are out of line with God’s pattern for our lives and therefore, we are in sin!)
Notice some particular features of this verse:
1. It is addressed specifically to husbands – Why? The husband is responsible before God as the head of the home – Eph. 5:22-23.
2. Men are told to “dwell with them: – Literally, “to be aligned to.” The husband is to take the time to find out all he can about his wife. He needs to know what makes her tick. Until we are able to understand our wives, we can never be in line with their feelings and needs. When the home is out of alignment, hindered prayer results!
3. Men are told to do this “according to knowledge” – Literally, “with understanding” Most women need more than most men are willing to give. Men need to be sensitive to their partner’s needs. (Two-way communication is essential to keep an open relationship and an open prayer line to God!)
4. Men are told to give honor to their wives – Honor means to “hold in high value.” “Weaker vessel” refers not to moral or spiritual weakness, but to physical strength. The picture is of a delicate, priceless, extremely fragile vase. We must realize that our wives are something of intense beauty and value, but something that is infinitely fragile and easily shattered. We men need to learn how to hold our wives in honor. Otherwise, she will be broken before you and your own spiritual life will be shattered. (How He treats His bride – Eph. 5:25!)
5. Discord in the home hinders our fellowship with God.
VI. James 1:5-8 A LACK OF FAITH
Without question, faith is an essential part of prayer. The lack of faith hinders God’s ability to move in power – Mark 6:5 God demands our faith in prayer. However, God can do a lot with a little – (The loaves and fishes – John 6!) – Matt. 17:20. Even our doubts and weaknesses, when sowed with a little faith can real harvest of glory in our lives – Mark 9:14-29! (The early church Acts 12!) God honors faith because genuine faith honors Him – Mark 9:23; Matt. 21:22.