|Vol. 14 No. 8 August 2012||
Christians can pray anytime. In fact, believers are instructed to never give up on praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, we are sometimes discouraged when we think we have prayed sincerely and according to God’s will, and yet it appears that God has not answered. Could it be that something has hindered our prayers in those instances?
Satan would be happy if we did not recognize the hindrances to prayer. If he can just get us distracted or discouraged, he has won a battle and hindered us in our prayer life. There are some devices of the devil that he uses to hinder our prayers. One such device is doubt. If a disciple of Christ begins to doubt his right to pray or doubt that God will hear, then it is all too easy to quit praying. Sometimes God may say no to our petitions. Even if He does, do not doubt His power. Do not doubt God’s faithfulness. Know that His ears are open to the supplications of the righteous (1 Peter 3:12).
If we are arrogant and haughty like the Pharisee in Luke 18, we should expect our prayers to be hindered. This Pharisee spent his whole prayer boasting. He evidently had no humility, only pride. His self-righteous attitude kept him from being acceptable to God (Luke 18:14). If the believer has an unforgiving spirit, he should not expect God to give an affirmative response to his plea for forgiveness (Matthew 6:12-15).
Another hindrance to prayer is not being in a right relationship with God. If we are walking in the path of unrighteousness, disregarding the will of God, we should expect our prayers to be hindered. Solomon said if we stop our ears to God’s Word and do not listen to God, our prayer is an abomination unto him (Proverbs 28:9). However, if we are obedient and do the things that are pleasing unto God, we can expect him to hear us (1 John 3:22).
Since our God is a jealous God, if we put anything or anyone before him, it certainly would be a hindrance to our prayers (Exodus 20:5). If a husband does not give due consideration to his wife, his prayers will be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). There are other things that could hinder prayers, so Christians should do their best to avoid anything that hinders their communication with God. Remember to pray in faith, according to God’s will, living a righteous life with an attitude of “thy will be done” in all things (James 1:6; 1 John 5:14; 1 Peter 3:12; Luke 22:42).
Why does the news you read in the paper or see on TV always sound so bad? I once had it explained this way. Our news focuses on the negative because it is out of the ordinary, atypical, not an everyday occurrence. A hurricane, then, is newsworthy for several reasons (the ecological impact, the economic impact, the human perspective, etc.), one of which is its uniqueness. The point being made is not everything happening in the world is bad. Of course, bad things do happen. We should not, however, allow the bad to keep us from seeing the good. A balanced perspective is needed.
The same can be true spiritually. Elijah complained to God, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10). Elijah was viewing the world through Jezebel’s threat to kill him. His response to God is, “Nobody serves you but me, and they are trying to kill me!” Obviously, the situation was bad in Israel, but it was not as bad as he was making it out to be. God reminded Elijah there were 7,000 in Israel who had not worshipped Baal (1 Kings 19:18). God helped Elijah see his life from a different point of view.
It is easy to sit back and complain about problems, real or imaginary, in the Lord’s church. That the church has problems, no doubt, is true. We need, however, to keep things in perspective; not everything in the church is bad. Reading the Corinthian letters, the church at Corinth clearly had serious problems. Paul, however, did not reject them; he dealt with them as brethren. He commended the good, rebuked the negative and sought to instruct and encourage all in righteousness. Similarly, we should never condone evil or ignore what is good. Remember the word of our Lord, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).
We live in a world of sin, but there is always hope in Christ. Keep a proper perspective of life. Paul admonishes, “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22), for, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).