There are three major roadblocks to prayer that prevents them from reaching the throne of God and results in them bouncing off the ceiling. They leave void and return empty. But God said no too many biblical heroes and heroines in the Bible. These include Moses, Hannah, Paul and even Jesus Christ. If you can overcome these three major barriers, then your prayers will not only be heard by God, but they will be answered. The answer may be no, mind you, but they will be aired in the presence of God.
Three Reasons Prayers Fail
Sin prevents us from being heard by God in the first place. Prayer and thanksgiving can both go directly to heaven and these are described to God as a sweet savor, like incense is. But obedience is better than sacrifice. A ton of good works is useless when there is willful, unrepentant sin. Sin can also make us feel unworthy to prayer, so it even inhibits prayers in the first place. If my children ask me for something and I know they are being disobedient during the time they are asking me for it, then I first address the disobedience. Why would God reward us with answered prayer when we are sinning knowingly, and in an on-going fashion? He won’t. Psalm 66:18 states that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
If you pray and the first and foremost words are “me” and “I”, then this is obviously a prayer all about you or all about me. If I pray only about my needs, my desires, my wants and my wishes, then I am the central focus of that pray. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ model prayer, He starts off with adoration and praise of God and thanksgiving toward Him.
Are my prayers more about glorifying Him or glorifying Jesus or about getting glory for myself? What is our real intent? Am I more interest in what I want than in what God’s wants? For example, God want’s us to share the Gospel but if I want to see how many souls I can save just to be able to put spiritual notches in my belt, then its all about me and not about Him.
Spirit of Unforgiveness
I have caught myself praying as a hypocrite. I ask God’s forgiveness, yet how dare I when I still hold a grudge against someone else. How can I ask God to forgive me and then not forgive others? Its like, I ask for your forgiveness, but I still have others I won’t forgive. A spirit of un-forgiveness can exist in many forms: jealousy, anger, revenge, grudges, gossiping, and avoidance.
Delayed or Denied Prayers
Moses (Duet. 3:23-28/32:48-52)
Moses wanted to go into the Promised Land with Israel. But Moses was disobedient when God asked him to speak to the rock to provide water for Israel. Instead Moses struck the rock twice with his staff. The water still came out, but he directly disobeyed God in the way He asked him to make the water come out of the rock. Moses’ request to cross over the River Jordan was denied. Disobedience prevents prayers from being answers or it produces an answer that is no.
Hannah (1 Sam 1:1-20)
Hannah desired more than anything to have a child. Her womb was barren. In fact the Lord was said to have closed Hannah's womb. This was during the time of Israel's not having a king and after the time of the judges. A time the Bible describes as when “every man did what was right in their own eyes”. God's answer to Hannah was delayed because God wanted so much more for Hannah and so much greater things for Hannah and Israel than just having a baby. She prayed so fervently that she even told God that He could use her child in His service. This might have been what God was waiting for. Hannah would later have a child that would change the history of Israel and the world, for Samuel would be born. Samuel would anoint Israel's first king, Saul and later David, the greatest earthly King that Israel ever had or would ever have. Through David's seed, a Messiah would later be born. That is, Jesus Christ, who is of the lineage of David. God delayed because God wanted to do more than Hannah was asking for. If He delays to answer our prayer, perhaps He want's much more for us than we are asking for.
Paul (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
Paul desperately wanted the thorn in his side to be removed, praying three times. God’s answer to Paul’s prayer was no. God knew that Paul tended to have his own agenda and to put it above God’s. God wanted this thorn in the flesh to remain to keep Paul humble and in need of God’s grace. Paul tended to be independent but this healing prayer was answered with a decisive no, even though Paul prayed three times for it. God knew His greater plan must override that of Paul’s.
Jesus (Matt. 26: 36-44)
The human side of Jesus desired to avoid the cross if possible three times saying, “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me’ nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (vs. 39). He repeated this request in verse 42 and 44. Jesus’ request was secondary to His desire to follow the Father’s will.
Prayers Hindered, Delayed or Answered No
When we have sin, this blocks our access to the Father’s throne. If we have not sinned but ask only for our own selves, and not for the will of God, then the answer will be no. When we still have un-forgiveness in our heart, this hinders our prayers. But sometimes prayers are delayed for a very good reason. What we ask for in prayer may not be what God wants. In fact, He may want something much, much greater than what we are asking for. For example, if we ask for a new job and don’t get it, sometimes we get a job that is closer to our hearts desires. God knows best. Delayed pray is not a no: it may actually be a “not yet” or “wait for the best timing for you my child” or “I have something much greater in store for you”. God may have bigger plans for you than the prayers that you are asking for. In fact, to glorify Jesus’ name, He may give you something far greater that greatly surpasses even your own imagination. That is what I am praying for.
Originally published at: associatedcontent.com/jackwellman
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