Prayer is a spiritual exercise that is effective and should not be in futility. Any disciple who decides to cultivate the presence of God must hold prayer in high esteem. Such a person makes prayer a lifestyle rather than an August event. Disciples must of necessity align their goals with the will of God for prayers to be answered. People have several reasons for praying. Some pray based on emotions, situations, or by compulsion. However, prayer should be motivated by the word of God. There is nothing too big or small to pray about neither can our prayer change God. Whatever may be the content of our prayer, asking that the will of God be done is ultimate because no prayer can move God against His will.
FACTORS THAT HINDER PRAYERS
Hindrances to prayer are anything or anyone that prevents or obstructs prayer from being answered. It is the Lord’s delight to give us what we ask of His in prayer. Oftentimes, certain things stand as stumbling blocks for our prayers to be answered. At such times, we should not be discouraged but only find reasons why our prayers are not answered. The following are hindrances to prayer.
1. Sin can hinder prayers.
Believers should understand that sin is a barrier between God and man. It brings separation between man and God. God cannot condone sin because He is holy. As such, believers should be careful not to buy with sin. The Bible states that the prayers of a sinner are an abomination before God (John 9: 31). Other Scriptures that talk about sin as a hindrance to prayer are Isaiah 59: 2 and Proverbs 15: 8. Any form of unrighteousness or whatsoever does not glorify God is sin. Therefore, every known sin must be confessed and forsaken to receive forgiveness. Sin also makes believers timid instead of bold when in the presence of God.
2. Doubt can hinder prayers.
Doubt is an expression of distrust and unbelief. It is one of the hindrances to prayer that believers should overcome. Doubt is the manifestation of a lack of faith in the place of prayer. Doubt weakens the faith of believers and renders their prayer ineffective (James 1: 6-8). A believer can overcome doubt through in-depth study and meditation on the Word of God. They can also pray against doubt because it is an instrument in the hand of the devil to weaken believers’ faith in God.
3. Motives can hinder prayers.
Motives play a vital role in prayers being answered. The motive for praying is the reason, intent, and purpose for praying. Disciples must be on guard not to allow ungodly motives to influence their prayer life. When prayers become an avenue for revenge, to curse, to insult, or to take the glory that belongs to God, such prayers cannot be answered by God (James 4: 3). Motives can and must be made right with God through the help of the Holy Spirit. The praying Christians must allow the Holy Spirit to influence their prayer. Believers must be sincere and open to the voice of God.
4. Unforgiveness can hinder prayers.
An unforgiving spirit hinders prayers. During Jesus’ early ministry, He taught His disciples to forgive those who wrong them if their prayers will be answered (Mathew 6: 14-15). Believers should learn to forgive one another if their prayers will receive the required attention and answer before God. When we fail to forgive those who wrong us, it is an indication that we do not truly understand what God did to redeem us back to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.
5. Disobedience can hinder prayers.
When we disobey God, it hinders our prayers from being answered. Disobedience to God is an indication that He is not the Lord of our lives. Believers must learn to submit to God in obedience.
HOW TO OVERCOME HINDRANCES TO PRAYERS
Prayers are an essential part of the Christian life. If we do not want our prayers to be hindered, we should learn to appropriate the following:
1. Have a cordial relationship with God.
Believers must consciously maintain a cordial relationship with God to guard against hindrances to prayer. This they can do by having a consistent prayer life, Bible study, meditation, and obeying the word of God. When believers maintain a cordial relationship with God, they will be at peace with whatever becomes the answer to their prayers. Have strong faith in God.
Believers must consciously pray in faith for their prayers to be answered. Our faith is being developed by the Word of God (Hebrews 11: 6).
2. Avoid iniquity and immorality.
Holding iniquity in our hearts could hinder our prayer if believers want their prayers to be answered. Believers should be quick to reconcile with God and man whenever the relationship we have with others goes sour (Psalm 66: 18).
3. Give reverence to God.
Believers must learn to give total allegiance to God. They must examine their priorities. Anything we value more than God is an idol that will hinder our prayers.
4. Pray with the Scripture.
The Bible contains various promises of God for His children. Praying using the Scriptures is a way of reminding God of His promises because God honors His word (Psalm 138: 2).
5. Pray in the name of Jesus.
Disciples of Jesus must learn to pray only in the name of Jesus. It is only the name of Jesus that God recognizes. Believers should be bold to pray, calling the name whenever they pray publicly or privately (John 14: 13-14).
6. Live a life of holiness.
If your prayer will not be hindered, check the life you live. Holiness is a prerequisite to receiving answers to prayers. Believers should endeavor to live clean and pure lives devoid of sin. Believers must approach God with a clean heart (Psalm 24: 3-4).
7. Be humble and submitted.
Disciples of Christ should approach God humbly because all our righteousness is like filthy rags before God(Luke 18: 10-14). Also, prayer should be in submission to the will of God. When believers pray, submitting to the will of God, they have peace (Luke 22: 42).
8. Be consistent in prayers.
Disciples must develop an attitude of praying at all times. Nothing should be too big or too small to pray about. Believers should not be tired of praying when an answer to prayers seems delayed (1 Thessalonians 5: 17)
9. Develop a praying culture
Developing a praying culture should be the starting point for individuals and the church. The time spent in prayer should be valued by believers because it is not a waste of time. The Scripture should be our overall guide when we want to pray. Disciples should not allow circumstances to control them but control circumstances with prayer. Nothing should be too big or small to talk to God about.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will enable you to pray God’s will at all times. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the content of our personal and corporate prayers. Pray that God will grant us the power to overcome all hindrances.
The best way to overcome hindrances to prayer is to continue in prayer, grow in prayer, and put on the full armor of God as contained in Ephesians 6: 10-18. In addition, believers must learn to pray in the Spirit because there are mysteries in the Spirit which the Devil does not understand. By doing this, we would overcome everything that may want to hinder our prayers from being answered.