By Sonny Islas
HINDERED PRAYER – PART 5
Prayer is essential for the Christian disciple of Christ. Lord teach us to pray . . . !
That’s what the disciples asked of the LORD in LUKE 11:1.
So far, we’ve discovered (in Parts 1 & 2 in this series) that (1) marital discord, (2) insincerity, (3) selfishness, (4) coldness (and in Parts 3 & 4) (5) a lack of confidence, (6) overlooking God’s will, (7) not praying, (8) an evil lifestyle (of the unbeliever), and (9) staying away from God’s Word hinders our prayers.
Today I’m going over the next four ways in which our prayers can be hindered.
Hindered prayers is a temporary blockage between us and God. It’s kind of like a blood clot. A blood clot blocks the blood from freely flowing to the heart and in the same way hindrances block our prayers from gracefully flowing to God’s heart.
If you, like myself desire a powerful prayer life, then It’s very necessary for us to know what hinders our prayers. The last thing I want is to be left talking to myself in prayer.
King David says, Give ear to my prayer, O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication (my prayer needs). - PSALM 55:1 (I’m sure David sensed that God was hiding Himself from answering prayer at times).
10. LACK of PERSISTENCE – HINDERED PRAYERS
In short, this is what persistence in prayer looks like: Pray. Trust. Wait. Repeat.
Aborted and abandoned prayers get us nowhere. Half way prayers only get us half way there.
An archer or bowman doesn’t purposely shoot an arrow to fall short of its target, does he? No, he pulls back the arrow with just the right amount of strength, aims with precision and releases with hopes that the arrow will hit the target. Pray until you hit the bulls eye!
A ready bride doesn’t stop walking half way down the aisle, does she (If so, the groom is in big trouble!)?
An Olympic runner doesn’t stop running half way down the track. On the contrary, he runs until he crosses the finish line and isn’t fully satisfied until he gets the gold medal. A deer hunter isn’t fully satisfied until he shoots a buck and turns it into beef jerky!
So, it is with prayer, we pray until we get what we’re asking for. Don’t be satisfied until your prayer is answered! Quitting in prayer is not an option unless the Lord shows us otherwise. For example, in 2 SAMUEL 12:16-23 David desperately prayed for his ill first born son not to die but then stopped praying as soon as his son died.
If we’re praying for an ill friend or family member, be it cancer or some other sickness, we are to persist in prayer until the end, regardless of the results. And we pray without anger or bitterness towards God.
After a taste of hell on earth Job tells his wife:
What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil (tragedy)? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
If we’re praying for a marriage that is on the rocks, we may pray for the best until a divorce is final. The Lord may still have us pray after that.
If your praying for a specific house, you pray until God gives it to you or until it’s sold to someone else.
If your praying for a specific job opening, again you pray until you get it or until it’s taken. In other words, we are to pray (like King David) until there is no more reason to continue. The Lord will show us when to stop but until then pray, pray and pray!
1 THESS 5:17-18 says,
Pray without ceasing (without stopping - prayer is a disposition, it’s a usual attitude, it’s a lifestyle) Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Pray with persistence and thanksgiving even though it may seem as though your prayers and faith aren’t paying off. We may not fully understand it all, but this is God’s will. To pray without ceasing, means to trust in God always, to depend on God always, to fellowship with God always!
Unanswered prayers can cause frustration (I know by experience) – But here is the remedy: persistent prayer combined with a grateful heart and praise will crush all frustration and disappointments! Remember that God is greater than our prayers, desires and deepest needs. He is perfect and so His answer, be it “yes”, “no” or “wait some more” is also perfect.
I’ve been praying for my younger brother to come back to Christ for over ten years now but I’m not quitting. I will wrestle with God until I see his salvation!
In LUKE 18:1 Jesus says, . . . men ought to pray always and not lose heart (become discouraged).
The context here is praying for justice. When we’ve been treated unjustly, we are to persistently pray that Christ will make the wrong, right in His time. We’re not revile the offender or avenge ourselves upon them. We’re not to fear, fight or worry; just pray, trust, wait and repeat.
Here’s the flip side (something of a paradox in scripture) Not all persistent prayer is answered by a yes; for example, we already saw this with King David.
We also see this with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed “Take this cup” three times (MATTHEW 26:42) . . . God’s answer?
“No” – and praise God! We should be very grateful that God said no! If His answer would have been yes, we would be damned forever. And if He said no to His only begotten Son, what makes us think that He won’t say no to us?!
But, we also see this same thing with the Apostle Paul in 2 COR 12:6-10:
Paul pleads with the Lord three times (persistently) for this physical illness (infirmity-this thorn in the flesh or bothering devil) to leave him (praying for healing) but what was the Lord’s answer?
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (vs.9)
This answer is far better than a no!!! (Sadly, many Christians would not like that answer, and why? Because they are too used to getting their own way; they’re too spoiled.
God didn’t answer Paul’s persistent prayer with a yes, because this infirmity kept Paul humble (lest he became prideful, due to deep revelations given to him). It kept him in need of Christ. Jesus knows best!
The Parable of the persistent friend (LUKE 11:5-8)
“. . . At midnight . . .” This was at the most unreasonable time: “but no time is unreasonable time with God, either for hearing or answering prayer”, says John Wesley.
When it comes to a friend, coming to Christ is coming to a Good Friend (hopefully our Best Friend!) In JOHN 15:15, the Lord calls us His friends (Christ is the “. . . friend that sticks closer than a brother.” PROVERBS 18:24)!
ROMANS 10:12 says, The same Lord over all is rich unto all who call upon Him
Jesus is rich in salvation, rich in provisions, rich in mercy and rich in answering persistent prayer! While we are spiritually bankrupt, He is the Possessor and Granter of all true riches, so let’s continually go to Him and Him alone with our petitions!
Jacob (Israel) was a man of persistent prayer - He will forever be known as the man who wrestled with God and won (That is of course because God let him win)!
Are we known as disciples who wrestle with God in prayer? Or are we of those who ‘tap out’ as soon as we get a chance?
“I will not let you go until You bless me!” May the LORD give us hearts like Jacob’s!
Due to his persistence, he was super blessed!
1. He wrestled with God and won.
2. He saw God face to face (not in full glory) and lived.
3. His name was changed from Jacob (meaning “supplanter/deceiver”) to Israel (“Prince with God”).
4. He was humbled by the limp that God caused (humbled – like Paul and his thorn in the flesh)
5. He received protection from Esau.
He wrestled with God until “the sun rose on him.”
Sorrow may last for a night but joy comes in the morning it says in PSALM 30:5
Joy and blessing comes through persistence in prayer, though those prayers may be tearful and full of sorrow.
11. ANXIETY (worry) - HINDERED PRAYERS
“Faith gives peace, and peace leaves the soul clear for prayer. But when care, worry comes in, it confuses the mind and puts the heart away from pleading (praying). Oh, for more grace and less worry! More praying and less hoarding! More intercession and less speculating!” - C.H. Spurgeon
6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Seeking God in prayer with a thankful heart is the cure for anxiety. Trusting in God through prayer puts all our worries to rest. When we choose to be anxious rather than prayerful we’re rejecting God’s peace that guards our hearts and minds through Christ. I find that I’m mostly at peace when I’m content and in constant prayer. I’ve made it a daily holy habit to cast all my cares at Jesus’ feet!
1 PETER 5:7
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
When we don’t cast our cares as we are commanded, but instead we embrace and entertain our worries we are being prideful and rebellious which only leads to more confusion and frustration.
A sister in Christ - was engulfed and consumed with worries which led to complaining, discontentment and confusion. We won’t cast our cares at Jesus’ feet if we can’t live without them, if we don’t surrender them to the LORD!
1 PETER 5:5 says that God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble and we are never humbler then when we are in constant prayer which points to a constant dependency on Christ.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit [by the influences of the Holy Spirit], and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
When it comes to praying for the spiritual well-being of ourselves and others there is never an end to that. We’ll stop praying for each other when we are in glory (heaven)!
I find that the subject on prayer is inexhaustible. I’ve been teaching on prayer for a month and a half now; previously I taught on prayer for two and a half months. There are countless books on prayer. There are a little over 600 prayers prayed in the bible. Why is prayer so important? I believe it’s the life of the Christian and the life of the Church.
“If the church is weak in prayer, she’ll be weak in all other areas.” Leonard Ravenhill.
The unhindered prayers of the saints are a sweet-smelling aroma unto God! – A spiritual incense unto the Lord.
In EXODUS 30 we find Aaron (High Priest) burning sweet incense unto the Lord every morning in the House of God. That is a picture of daily worship and daily prayer. We are called a “royal priesthood” in 1 PETER 2:9 so we too should be offering daily prayers unto the Lord! Just like Aaron. We are New Testament priests!
In EXODUS 30:34-38 we find that the incense was to be made up of a specific mixture of fine spices. The incense was to be done God’s way or it was all together rejected. In a similar way, our prayers need to be prayed God’s way too. And that’s what this “Hindered Prayers Series” is all about.
And in LUKE 1:9-13 we find the priest Zacharias (John the Baptist father) burning incense while praying, He was inside the temple while a multitude of people were praying outside the Temple during the hour of incense.
While Zacharias was praying the angel, Gabriel shows up and stands on the right side of the alter of incense and says, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Finally, in REV 8:4 it says And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose up before God from the hand of the angel.
In PSALM 141:2 King David prays, Let my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.
So, we see here the connection between a sweet-smelling aroma (incense-symbolically speaking) and prayers.
You’ve heard me say that “If prayer is like breathing then bad prayer is like bad breath.” And it’s true, but unhindered prayers are a sweet scent to God!
A woman walks into a perfume store and tests a handful of perfumes until she finds the one that makes her smile and gives pleasure to her sense of smell. (We do that with laundry detergents, deodorant, air-fresheners etc). We all have specific preferences.
In a similar way, the Lord tests all our prayers until He finds the ones that catch His attention and puts a smile on His face (Us men only care about one smell and that’s the fragrance of carne asada or steak)!
As our prayers ascend to heaven, they will go as a sweet fragrance or a foul smell. I’m sure I’ve had a good amount of bad smelling prayers myself.
Lastly, the fiery trials of life often cause the sweetest prayers!
You see it wasn’t until the incense was set on fire that it defused it’s good and acceptable aroma. In a similar way, some of our prayers will never give forth a pleasant smell until we go through the fires of life. Troubles, struggles, fumbles, stumbles, disappointments, failures etc.
Some of my sweetest prayers have come from some of my darkest times.
And not only set on fire by the trials of life but set on fire by and for Christ Himself. He is the All-Consuming Fire!
Those who have a blazing love for Christ, His ways and God’s Word will then pray passionate, sincere and wholehearted prayers that will reach Heaven’s mailbox!
HINDERED PRAYER – PART 6
12. REFUSING TO HELP THE NEEDY – HINDERED PRAYERS
Ignoring and not having compassion for the needy, can block our prayers.
PROVERBS 21:13 says Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.
One Bible commentator writes – “Let every man learn from this, that he who shuts his ear against the cry of the poor, shall have the ear of God shut against his cry. The words are quite plain; there is no difficulty here.” - Adam Clarke
Regarding The Parable of the rich man and Lazarus
Lazarus the poor man, didn’t get a crumb from the rich man’s table, so the rich man didn’t get a drop of water from the poor man’s finger. (LUKE 16:19-31)
In LUKE 6:31 Jesus says, Do to others as you would have them do to you.
1 JOHN 3:17-18 says, But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (In other words, talk is cheap and selfless actions speak louder than words).
Regarding The Parable of the Good Samaritan
LUKE 10:25, let’s not be like the priest and the Levite when they saw the man who was robbed, beaten and left for dead, they refused to help him, yet the Samaritan went the extra mile to show love to this helpless man. - When the opportunity arises, go that extra mile.
Job was a man who stood up for the needy in JOB 29:12, he says, I delivered the poor who cried for help, And the orphan who had no helper. There are many ways in which we can show mercy and compassion to the less fortunate.
Regarding the Lord in PSALM 72:13 it says, He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy He will save.
Again, Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard. PROVERBS 21:13
13. IDOLS - HINDERED PRAYERS
EZEKIEL 14:3 says And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of by them (Should I listen to their request, their prayers)?
What the Lord is basically saying here is “They’ve got idols in their hearts (the hidden place, where My Word, my Spirit and My throne is), they love people and things more than they love Me, why should I hear them?"
The first two commandments found in EXODUS 20:3-4 are You shall have no other gods before Me. And basically, Don’t make anything into a god, to love, worship or serve besides Me.
An idol is anything (or anyone) that takes the place of God in our hearts (lives). It can be something sinful. But it can also be something good. I.e. we can make an idol out of work, out of our dreams and ambitions, out of even ministry (there were times in my life when I put music before God). We can make an idol out of self, a spouse, a boyfriend, or girlfriend. out of money, out of any object or possession. If anything, or anyone becomes more important than God, that’s an idol. And if we have idols in our hearts, God won’t hear us.
Examine your hearts (2 COR 13:5); something Israel failed to do time and time again. Because our God is a jealous God and just as a husband won’t share his bride with no other so it is with God.
14. UNCONFESSED SINS - HINDERED PRAYERS
17 I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
The Prince of Preachers said,
“Earthly pleasures, especially of a questionable nature are the worst of hindrances. How can you come before the throne of God with petitions when you have just been dishonoring the Name of the Most High?” and
“If we walk contrary to the Lord, He will walk contrary to us.” – C.H. Spurgeon
ISAIAH 59:2 says, But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, that He will not hear.
1 JOHN 1:9 states that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So if we confess our sins, the LORD will cleanse us and hear us when we pray.
Pastor Sonny has one more teaching (Part 7) to complete this vital series on prayer. At that time, I will make a few points on prayer myself as an addendum.
May the LORD bless and keep us on this righteous road of prayer, as the saints and priests of the LORD Jesus Christ.