"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

HINDERED PRAYER: Part 3 & 4

By SONNY ISLAS

INTRODUCTION:
In this seven-part series, Sonny Islas, pastor of Eternal Living Word Church (where I currently fellowship) brings valuable teachings and insights on the causes of and cures for hindered prayer.
Since prayer is ESSENTIAL for every Christian, this series which I have attended in service with ready heart and ears is something that must be recorded and provided for all the saints, and so it is with great honor and blessing that I've been allowed to bring these teachings to The TRUTH Under FIRE! May the LORD bless and keep us all, His beloved!



HINDERED PRAYER - PART 3 & 4 
LACK OF CONFIDENCE and OVERLOOKING GOD’S WILL

LACK OF CONFIDENCE
So far, we’ve learned that marital discordinsincerityselfishness, and coldness hinder our prayers. One may think “What’s the big deal anyway I hardly ever pray and I’m doing just fine!” But what we need to understand is that prayer is much more than just asking God for stuff (and for getting us out of trouble). Prayer is our life line [communion, a relationship, a close connection] with God. You don’t want your close connection with God to be hindered, right?

Today I’m going to go over two more ways in which our prayers can be hindered.
5. A Lack of Confidence – Hinders Prayer

When we pray we must be confident in whom God is to us and who we are to God.
We are God’s children and He is our Heavenly FatherChildren are typically confident when they ask mom and dad for something; I know my boys are (especially on payday).

In MATT 7:7-11 Jesus says, 
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things 
(The Holy Spirit, being the greatest gift – LUKE 11:13) to those who ask Him!  

Be confident in the fact that He is far better than any earthly (sin-natured) father
He’ll never give us anything that causes harm. If we ask for a fish, He won’t turn around and give us a venomous snake (in other words, be confident in that He will answer only those prayers that are according to His will and benefit Him first then us). Because a good father takes pleasure in giving wholesome things to his kids.

He gives us bread and fish (food) which merely nourishes the body (the lesser things) but even more, He gives us His Word and His Spirit which nourishes us spiritually (The greater things)!

He’s our heavenly Dad and we are His kids – Let’s say that I was a teenager who requested a car from my dad (preferably a 66 Ford Mustang Convertible) nothing too fancy; and say another teenager from the neighborhood came and asked MY DAD for the same thing (the same car). Who will have more confidence, me or this other kid? Me, of course. Why? Because He’s MY DAD not his. (Now I’m not promoting materialistic prayers neither. Though the Lord may bless us with a nice vehicle if He pleases).

Again, If the Queen and her children: both the prince and the princess came and asked the King for a special something (we’ll say an expensive piece of land, with a beautiful home and horses) and also another comes (a common townsman) and asks for the same thing…, which one has a better chance of getting what they asked for? The Queen (The Bride of King Jesus) and the prince and princess (The sons and daughters of The King of kings), because we’re family.

Or what man among you who, if his son asks” – So knowing our position as sons and daughters of God gives us confidence when we pray.

We are also confident in the fact that He hears us – He knows when and why we ask, He sees us when we seek Him and He hears us when we knock. He is most definitely on the other side of that door!

1 JOHN 5:14,15 says,
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

King David was confident in prayer – In PSALM 65:2 he says,
O You who hears (
answers) prayer, to You all flesh will come.
He hears us” – We’re not talking to some lifeless statue. One that has eyes but can’t see, has ears but can’t hear, and has hands but can’t move them to give you what you want, or to help you in times of need.

I think that even as Christians we can forget who we’re talking to sometimes. He’s God Almighty, the King of the Universe! He’s Omnipresent (All Present), Omnipotent (All Powerful), and Omniscient (All Knowing)!

Here’s a joke: a little boy wanted a toy so bad that he took a statue of Mary and hid it under his bed, then he tells Jesus “I kidnapped your mom, so answer my prayer or you’ll never see your mom again!...” We don’t have to threaten (twist arm, corner or manipulate) God, just be confident in who He is and who you are in Him.

Don’t lose confidence because your prayer is not answered right away, like this little boy – God’s answers to prayer are either, yes, no or wait.

Keep in mind that in GEN 15:2 Abram prays for a son and His prayer was fully answered but only after waiting for 25 years!. Did he lose heart? No. Because He was confident that the Lord was faithful to His Word (promises).

I believe that God is grieved and even feels dishonored when we approach Him with a lack of confidence. God is far too big and great for us to approach Him with anything less than a confident attitude. Confident in who He is and who we are in Him.

What do you need today?
Do you need spiritual strength? Be confident in that He can change your weakness into His strength (2 COR 12:9). He did it for Samson when he needed it most even after he utterly failed, He can do it for you!
JUDGES 16:27 says
Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.

Physical needs? Just know that you are more valuable than the birds of the air that the Lord loves and feeds every day (MATT 6:26). 

Are you praying for a loved one to be saved? Be confident in that His arm is not shortened that it cannot save (ISAIAH 59:1)! 

Do you need forgiveness? Come boldly to the throne of grace and get it:

HEB 4:16 says,
Let us therefore come boldly 
(confidently) to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Having a clear conscience due to obedience plus real love for Christ and others helps boost our confidence in prayer –

1 JOHN 3:21-23
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment
.

If we limit God in prayer this too is a lack of confidence: Read EPH 3:12,20-21Paul had great confidence in prayer and we should too.

EPHESIANS 3:12, 20-21
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen
.

OVERLOOKING GOD’S WILL

6. Overlooking God’s will – Hinders Prayer

Again, praying according to His will is true confidence! 
1 JOHN 5:14 says,
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His willHe hears us (answers us). His will? His will by His Word -

-Let’s begin by confidently praying His general will for our lives. - Praying for forgiveness is His will (ISAIAH 1:18). Praying for purity is His will (1 THESS 4:3).  Praying for the salvation of others is His will (2 PETER 3:9). Praying for wisdom is His will (JAMES 1:5).

Regarding all kinds of circumstances and every day choices big or small we should always pray for His will to be done. Why because He knows best!

“Lord I want to marry this person but only You know the outcome, Your will be done.”
“Lord, I want to buy that house but only you know if this is truly a good investment right now, Your will be done.”
“Lord, I want to start this new ministry but only You know if it’s right for me, Your will be done.”
“Lord I have cancer, please heal me, Your will be done.” 

ISAIAH 55:8,9 (He’s sovereign and in control!)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts
.

Our attitude in prayer should be “everything You want for me, I also want for me!” Even if it’s painful. Why? Because we know that all things work together for good for those who love God…(ROM 8:28)

I once prayed over a woman who had cancer and she got angry when I prayed for the Lord’s will to be done. I was told that she died angry and bitter towards God because He didn’t heal her. Could it be that her healing was more valuable to her than God’s will? Maybe.

Some believe that praying for God’s will to be done is a lack of faith but really, it’s the other way around!

Jesus our greatest example taught us to pray for God’s will to be done Your Kingdom come, Your will be done” – MATT 6:10 and even prayed for God’s will Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane during the toughest point of His ministry (MATT 26:39) where the innocent Lamb of God would drink down the wrath of God on behalf of sinners!!

When we pray contrary to God’s will it’s like to rams bunting heads but when we pray according to God’s will, it’s like to friends embracing.

Praying according to His will means to pray in harmony with His desires, plans, pleasures, service and glory. In my younger years, I often failed to pray according to God’s will and for that reason I experienced lots of heartache and discouragement. God always had better for me, but I ran after what I thought was best. It’s a good thing we learn from our mistakes!

AFTERWORD - By James Fire:

How confident are you with your acquaintances? How does that level of confidence compare with that which you have with your dearest friend? Or your spouse? Different levels, right? What’s the difference between them all? It’s how well you know them! Those that you know superficially you would tend to be less confident with, not as trusting. Those that you know through and through you would have the greatest of confidence in, and your trust in them would be implicit, right?
It’s the same with the LORD; if you know Him very well, if you know His heart, your confidence and trust in Him will be great! Not so great, if you keep the LORD at an arm’s length kind of relationship.
As we grow in the knowledge of the LORD, that is, as we get to know Him more and more, our faith in Him will grow proportionately. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by . . . the Word of God!” (ROM 10:17). Let us read His book, which reveals His heart, and learn of His absolute trustworthiness in all things, and express that faith in our prayers, confident that He will hear us!

HINDERED PRAYER - PART 4 – 

NOT PRAYING, AN EVIL LIFESTYLE, NEGLECTING GOD’S WORD
We’ve been going to God’s Word to find out exactly what hinders our prayers. It can get pretty frustrating when we’re talking on the phone and it just feels like there is no one listening on the other side. Why? Because communication is a two-way deal, but there are times when God chooses to put us on hold or mute, until we get things right.
Be assured that there are no hindrances on God’s end, the hindrances are always on our end!

 NOT PRAYING
7. Not Praying – Hinders Prayer [A no brainer]
Revisit – JAMES 4:2,3…Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” (James was talking to a prayer-less people here. “You’re just not praying”). I fear that the church in America is just not praying.

Leonard Ravenhill once said, “those that are not praying are playing.” Very true!

James was basically saying, “You’ll even covet, murder, fight and war for the things you want before you finally decide to pray.” In other words, they would do everything on their own before their knees hit the floor. And to make matters worse, when they would finally decide to pray (as a last resort), their motives were rotten!

We want God to make our paths straight, to lead the way, to help with life decisions; but we don’t ask!

PROVERBS 3:6 says,In ALL YOUR WAYS acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” I believe that we acknowledge God most when we’re seeking Him in prayer.
We want many things from God but we just don’t want to ask Him for them. We’re not willing to wrestle and wait on Him. We’re too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, too distracted, and too entertained. And yet we expect God to answer prayers that we have never even prayed!

Our God desires to be asked. It’s the first step to answered prayers.

2 CHRON 1:7 says,
In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.” 
King Solomon asked for wisdom to lead Israel = unselfish prayer. He would not have received had he not asked.

Again, God not only desires but requires us to “ask, seek and knock.”
MATT 7:7,8
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened
.

The Reason for Asking: 

Can it be that God wants some face to face, heart to heart time with us? And that He just wants us to enjoy His company? Even though He already knows what we will ask

MATT 6:8 “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

When our children have needs, and ask us to meet those needs, doesn’t it feel good to know that our children acknowledge that they need us? Prayer is not to benefit God but to benefit us! We need Him so we ask of Him.

Listen, when we continue in prayer we are constantly acknowledging His existence, His worth, His provisions, His nearness, His loving kindness and His great power to do exceedingly above and beyond all we can ask or think!  

I’ve heard some people say “I don’t like praying.” That’s like saying “I don’t like talking to God nor depending on Him for anything.” I personally can’t live without seeking God in prayer! By the way, I don’t think that it’s possible for a true Christian to live without prayer. One who doesn’t pray, frankly doesn’t know God.

Let’s briefly look at some things that can stop us from praying. A few reasons: Carelessness, spiritual slack, busyness of life (overwhelmed), overworking (tired & no time), worldliness (kills interest), and a disorderly life.

 AN EVIL LIFESTYLE
8. An Evil Lifestyle – Hinders Prayer – God’s ears and spiritual blessings are all together closed to the wicked, the unsaved, the unbeliever. Re: The unregenerate, the only prayer God answers is “Lord have mercy!” With a heart willing to truly repent (1 PETER 3:10-12).

PSALM 34:15,16 says, 
The eyes of the Lord are towards the righteous and His ears are open to their cry
 (Prayers) But the face of the Lord (including His ears) is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Not only will He not hear them now but for all of eternity He will not hear them. Even after a trillion years in the lake of fire, not one response from heaven come. Now that’s dreadful! Yet there is abundant hope for the unrighteous when they place their full trust in Jesus and turn from evil. No one is too lost that Christ cannot find and no one is too dirty that Christ cannot cleanse!

A man who was born blind and was miraculously healed by Jesus understood this. In JOHN 9:31 he tells the PhariseesWe know that God does not listen to sinners (unsaved), but He does listen to the one who worships Him and does His will.”
Even the unrighteous understand this (That God only listens to the righteous) i.e. When God was bringing judgement upon Pharaoh and Egypt, (during the second plague- frogs) Pharaoh begged Moses to pray to God because Pharaoh knew that God would hear Moses (EXODUS 8:8-15).

Another similar story is when Simon the sorcerer begged Peter to pray that God would forgive him of his great sin (of trying to buy the power of the Holy Spirit for self-glory; ACTS 8:22-24).

Maybe you’ve experienced this in your life, where an unbelieving friend of family member asked you to pray for them or a certain situation because they recognize that you have a right relationship with Christ. (By the grace of God, I’ve experienced this many times). Lesson: Our right living helps the world (the wicked) to see that there truly is a God who answers prayer!

The fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much!JAMES 5:16

A young man who had stage 4 cancer recently came to our church in hopes that God would heal him. We prayed and prayed and not many days later the Lord healed him completely but then, soon after he received his healing he and his family left the church. Like the crowds found in JOHN 6:66 this young man came for his bread but rejected Jesus Himself. So sad! Here too the lost came to the found for prayer.

2 CHRON 7:14 says,If My people (not just anyone), who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

When an unbeliever prays to God, it’s like him talking into the ear of his worst enemy but when a true believer prays to God, it’s like him talking into the ear of his best friend! One says, “God doesn’t hear me” Are you truly His?

 NEGLECTING GOD’S WORD
9. Staying away from God’s Word – Hinders Prayer

PROV 28:9 warns,
One who turns his ear from hearing the Law 
(The Word) even his prayer is an abomination.

This is not just for those who disobey God’s Word but even those who reject and neglect both the hearing (at that time) and the reading of God’s Word, their prayers are not only unacceptable but even worse, an altogether filth.
Why? Because how is it that we who are finite beings made of dirt can disregard the words of an all infinite and holy God and yet want Him to hear us? This does not fly with God!

In JOHN 15:7 Jesus says,
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.

When the Word of God dwells richly in our hearts (COL 3:16) it is then that we can pray according to God’s will which are the purest most potent prayers one can offer. Praying God’s Word stimulates (stirs up) and encourages prayer.

When I read the Word, I can’t help but pray! If you’re not in God’s Word today you are truly missing out!

AFTERWORD - By James Fire:
On the issue of “not praying” the LORD shared with me this insight: “Prayerlessness leads to paralysis in the body of Christ.” Without prayer, there is no meaningful communication between the Head of the church and the church – His body. Without proper signals transmitting from the human brain, the body will not respond properly in any coordinated fashion, but in an uncoordinated fashion. Prayerlessness brings about a kind of spiritual cerebral palsy and the body cannot function as God intended for the church.

There are times when we pray but once, maybe twice, but then we give up; we lack endurance and fail to persist in prayer. This is contrary to the will of God as pastor Sonny ably demonstrated. If we would find answers to prayer from God, we will endure in prayer, not faint, until His answer – whatever that answer is – arrives!

On “an evil (sinful) lifestyle” – if we sow to the flesh, we cannot expect to reap in the Spirit (GAL 6:8) and any prayer we pray that the LORD will answer is birthed by the Spirit of God. This is why we always first pray for the LORD’s guidance in our prayers before we begin prayer meetings.
Yet if one is sowing to the flesh, living in sin, not repenting of known sin – how then can that one expect any answer to prayer? No one can!
Yet God is full of tender mercies and compassion – and if we are living in known sin, all that He asks is that we “turn from our wicked ways and seek His face”!

On the issue of neglecting God’s Word – anyone who goes on vacation will usually bring a map of some kind, especially if they are hiking in some forests with zillions of trails one might traverse. It would be foolish to venture into such a hike without a map, right?

Yet those who neglect God’s Word are ‘map-less’ in the sense that they don’t know the will of God. Even those of us who have been walking with the LORD for decades need reminding, which is why we must stay in the Word, continue in it, don’t let it slack off – “a diligent disciple in the Word is one who may be confident that they are heard!” Remember JOHN 15:7!


Here ends this section in the continuing study on HINDERED PRAYER. Next time we shall examined parts 5 and 6 in this series. Until then, may the LORD Bless and Keep us all in His magnificent and glorious grace, through our LORD Jesus Christ!

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