What Are the Hindrances to Prayers?
By Dr. Shirley Cheng
When you pray, do you feel that Yahweh God Almighty is ignoring your prayer? After all, prayer is communication with Yahweh; it is a two-way conversation. So when it seems as though your prayers are not being answered, there may be good reasons for it.
There are hindrances to prayers--things and behaviors that will prevent an answered prayer. Here, let us briefly go over some of these hindrances, so we can learn to eliminate them in our lives.
"But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. For let that man not think that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8, WEB)
When we pray to Yahweh, we need to have the right heart attitude of belief. Yahweh is Almighty, and His very name means "He who chooses to become," meaning that He has the ability and power to be and do anything He wants. When we ask for something yet doubt whether He can grant the request, we are treating Him as though He lacks the power to do what we ask for.
Not praying according to God's will
Jesus, God's Son, taught us to pray: "Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." (Matthew 6:10)
We need to pray for Yahweh's Kingdom to come and desire for His will to be fulfilled on Earth, as it is in His heavenly home. His Kingdom encompasses His entire will for us.
When we pray without taking God's will into account, we are praying with the wrong motives: "You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures." (James 4:3)
We must seek God's Kingdom first; make it our number one priority. His Kingdom is the answer to all of our needs, and it's the solution to all of our problems. When His Kingdom comes, we will have everything. Jesus promised: "But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things [material necessities] will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)
Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is like any relationship between earthly parents and their child. Not everything a child asks for will be granted by his parents. The parents answer requests based on their will and promises. This is done in everyone's best interest. Likewise, Yahweh grants our wishes only according to His will and His promises for us. Rest assured, His will for us is purely good.
Before we can ask according to God's will, we obviously need to know what His will is, don't we? So where can we find out? Why, in the Bible, of course! Pick up a copy of the Bible, read and study it. Take note of God's will and promises, and then pray according to them. (And if you need help in studying and understanding the Bible, just reply to this newsletter and I'd be more than glad to be your Bible study buddy!)
Not remaining in Jesus and his words
We know that we need to seek the will of God, and part of that will is for us to remain in Him and His Son. "Remaining" in God and Jesus is living in them by doing their will, following their teachings and words. When we ask for something and don't do what Yahweh desires, it shows that we are asking for selfish reasons, without taking God's will into consideration.
Jesus promised us: "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7)
Not praying in Jesus' name
Jesus told us to pray in his name: "Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:13)
"Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full." (John 16:23, 24)
Praying in the name of Jesus does not merely mean that we conclude our prayers with, "In the name of Jesus Christ I pray." Rather, it also means to pray with the qualities of Jesus Christ, as "name" also denotes someone's characteristics and essence. We are to be Christ-like when we go before Yahweh in prayers: humble, faithful, and loving.
Jesus denounced those who pray just to show off: "When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward." (Matthew 6:5) Hypocrites will receive the reward they long for--praise from man--but they will not receive the reward of true value: that comes from God.
In order for our prayers to be answered by Yahweh, we must pray in humility, truthfully and sincerely from our hearts, and according to the truths of God as presented in the Bible. We should pray in secrecy: "But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:6)
While praying, we should be earnest, without using meaningless repetition, such as memorized prayers, chants or mantras: "In praying, don't use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. Therefore don't be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him." (Matthew 6:7-8)
Not forgiving others
Is it right to ask God to forgive our sins when we don't forgive others ourselves?
Jesus told us to pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)
So before we pray, we should achieve a peaceful mind and hold no grudges in our hearts. When we forgive the wrong that has been done to us, we will be able to ask God's forgiveness for our own wrongdoing, for "if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14)
Selfishness and lack of compassion
"Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he will also cry out, but shall not be heard." (Proverbs 21:13)
Mistreatment of your marriage partner
"You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)
"There they cry, but none gives answer, because of the pride of evil men." (Job 35:12)
Sin of any kind
As you can see, any sin keeps you from receiving an answer to your prayer from Yahweh.
"Behold, Yahweh's hand is not shortened, that it can't save; neither his ear heavy, that it can't hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)
Yahweh said: "When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:15-17)
"He who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9)
"The sacrifice made by the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh, but the prayer of the upright is his delight." (Proverbs 15:8)
Therefore, before God answers our prayers, we must eliminate any and all sins from our lives. How can we avoid and treat sins? We do it through the born-again experience.
While sins are a major blockade to prayers, the righteous--those who whole-heartedly devote their lives to seeking God's will--can experience delayed answers to their prayers due to Satanic hindrances. For example, the great prophet Daniel did not receive God's answer for his prayer until twenty-one days later because of demonic hindrances:
"Daniel, you man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright; for am I now sent to you... Don't be afraid, Daniel; for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard: and I have come for your words' sake. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but, behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the kings of Persia." (Daniel 10:11-13) The one speaking to Daniel here was an angel. Since only spiritual beings could hinder an angel, we know that the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" was an evil angel which we call a "demon."
The apostle Paul reminded us: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)
Yes, our main enemies are the demonic forces--evil spirits who do the will of their leader, Satan the devil. Satan and his followers do anything they can to go against Yahweh. From Daniel's experience, we can see that Satan has organized his evil force in the form of "principalities," where a demon rules over one specific region of Earth, like the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" mentioned in the book of Daniel. This is the "principalities" Paul spoke of.
Therefore, we must be strong, hold steadfast to our faith, and constantly rely on God to help us ward off the evil spirits. We must be persistent in our prayers. Jesus urged us to persistently pray to God. (Luke 18:1-8)
Jesus promised: "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
So keep on asking, seeking, and knocking according to the will of Yahweh, and He will answer you in His due time!
One final word...
Many times, Yahweh answers our prayers not exactly in the way we expect. Sometimes, we may not even realize He has answered us. Other times, He will not answer us when our wishes conflict with His will. But Yahweh will always do what is best for us. So even though we don't get everything we want, we will always, always get the best.
And the best of the best is a sacred, intimate relationship with Yahweh. Pray that you will develop such a relationship with Him. Seek His face, and you shall find Him!
Yahweh said: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
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Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983) is a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Yahweh God's good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Bible teacher, founder of Ultra-Ability Ministry, summa cum laude graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, poet; and author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah?"), contributor to over twenty-five, and an editor of one. Shirley has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Visit http://www.ShirleyCheng.com
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