Introduction: We all know that genuine prayer has the power to accomplish great things. In truth, there is no limit to the potential of prayer. That’s what James 5:16 and Matthew 17:20. However, while prayer is unlimited in its potential, it can be severely hindered or even rendered totally ineffective. Today, I would like to point out some attitudes and activities that can, and do, create problems in our praying. These are the Problems of Prayer. It starts with—
1. Selfishness (James 4:3) – Anytime we bring a prayer before the Lord that is based in wrong motives, we can be certain that it will fail. We must be certain that our prayers are for His glory, and that our motives are pure.
2. Idolatry (Ezekiel 14:3) – An idol is anything, or anyone that takes God’s place in our lives, or weakens our dependence upon Him to any degree. He is to have the first place and anything that comes before Him is an idol. There are some very real idols in our society: any idea, object, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, loyalty or person that lessens our loyalty to God. Alan Redpath puts it this way, “Our God is the person we think most precious, for whom we would make the greatest sacrifice, and who moves our heart with the greatest love. He, or it, is the person who, if we lost him, would leave us desolate.” The idea here is that unless God is in the Number 1 position, our prayer life will be hindered.
3. Unforgiveness (Mark 11:25) – God forgives and He expect His children to be in the forgiving business as well. Any other response by the child of God will prove to be a hindrance to effective praying.
4. Unconfessed Sin (Isaiah 59:2) – The primary hindrance to prayer is found in the area of unconfessed, unrepented sin. Even though we have been saved and forgiven, unconfessed prayer will still come between God and us. We are justified by faith, we continue in fellowship by confession according to 1 John 1:9. All sin in our lives must be brought into the light of God’s judgment as seen in Proverbs 28:13. You may have unconfessed sin in your life that is hindering you today. You may be committing a sin and not even realize that you are sinning, but it is hindering your prayer life. It is making the heavens appear to be brass. Perhaps this would be a great time to pray as the Psalmist did in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
5. Problems in the Home (1 Peter 3:7) – When there is a problem between a husband and a wife, or between those who live in the home, effective prayer will be hindered! We are supposed to be literally “one flesh,” but when there is a break in the fellowship, we are out of line with God’s pattern for our lives and therefore, we are in sin!
6. Lack of Faith (James 1:5-8) – Without question, faith is an essential part of prayer. Mark 6:5 makes the point that a lack of faith hinders God’s ability to move in power. God demands our faith in prayer. However, God can do a lot with a little. That’s the lesson of the loaves and the fishes in John 6. Even our doubts and weaknesses, when sowed with a little faith can reap a harvest of glory in our lives according to Mark 9:14-29! The bottom line is this, God honors faith because genuine faith honors Him (Mark 9:23 and Matthew 21:22).
This has been a food for your soul moment!