How effective are your prayers? Are there certain things that can harm the prayers you pray? All of us want prayers to be answered. Why else would we pray them? Truth is God always answers. We just get troubled when His answer is contrary to our request. His answer is sometimes no. One of my favorite scriptures is, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14, 15). God definitely answers prayers. The key here is “according to His will”. That’s when He hears and answers in the affirmative. The Bible says your prayers can be hindered by several things. So what are these prayer blockers?
The first prayer blocker is unforgiveness. When you harbor resentment, offense, bitterness, or anger towards another person it blocks your prayers. This isn’t my opinion. Jesus says in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Did you catch the “forgive…so that you may be forgiven” phrase? Christians have been forgiven from so much by God so why do we withhold forgiveness from others? What irony! Unforgiveness guarantees hindered prayers.
Another prayer blocker is unconfessed sin. Asking God to move on your behalf when you knowingly continue in sin leads to your prayers going unanswered. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. Doing bad things never earn you good things. Sin is a barrier that always separates us from God (Romans 6:23). The irony, again, here is He immediately forgives yet we are hesitant to ask. You can’t love sin and expect answered prayers at the same time.
Prayer blocker number three is selfishness. Bet you wish I had left that one out? James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions”. We don’t get our prayers answered because our motives are impure and wrong. God answers prayers according to His will and desires. If it isn’t His will (or goes against His will) you can be sure it won’t get answered. Now, it isn’t wrong to pray for yourself. You should! You can be unselfish in personal prayers. Jesus prayed, “Not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Instead of asking God to bless our prayers maybe we should ask Him what He wants us to pray?
Another prayer blocker is ignoring Scripture. Why would any good parent bless disobedience and defiance? Knowing what to do and not doing it is sin (James 4:17). Proverbs 28:9 says, “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination”. How can we call Him Lord if we don’t do what He says (Luke 6:36)? How can we pray something contrary to Scripture and expect God to answer it favorably? I’ve found one of the best ways to get my prayers answered it to pray the Scripture itself. “For the word of the LORD is right and true. He is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4).
Husbands, listen up. 1 Peter 3:7 says your prayers are answered according to how you treat your wife. If you dishonor her and fail to treat her with great worth as an heir (partner) in this life your prayers will be hindered. Want your prayers to be answered? Then be a Godly husband and love her as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25). I believe this principle applies to the wife as well. But Peter calls the husband out specifically on this one. It’s foolish to pray for your marriage to improve while your actions toward each other are absurd. Psalm 37:4 is true. When you delight yourself in the Lord He will give you the desires of your heart. We really do need the Lord to “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).