"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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Saturday, February 25, 2017



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!


In LUKE 11:1, one of Jesus’ disciples asked Him saying Lord, teach us to pray.’’ Everyone who desires a fruitful and potent prayer life needs to learn how to pray correctly, because there is a right and a wrong way to pray. i.e. we may have all the right words but have all the wrong motives. We may have all the right motives and yet be living wrongly.
-    Many tend to think that we can pray and live however we want and yet God is still obligated to hear and answer our prayers. But this divine book teaches otherwise. God is the one who sets the rules for prayer.
-    I like to look at prayer as a combination lock to heaven’s vault or heaven’s safe, i.e. As you begin to turn the dial but you don’t get all the right numbers guess what? No treasure for you. The door to the vault remains locked shut. You don’t get the blessing you prayed for. Why?
Wrong combination. We’ll say that the correct combination to unlock Heaven’s vault is 777 but you turned the dial to 773. This is the way prayer works, you may have a couple numbers right but you may have one number wrong!

But there’s good news! God’s Word gives us the right combination to open heaven’s vault in order to get Heaven’s goods!

§  This thought takes me back to combination lockers in high school. I always seemed to forget the combination, subsequently went to class a few times without my books. But the combination to answered prayers is something we can’t afford to forget!
Today I’m going to go over two ways in which we can hinder our prayers: marital discord is the first; insincerity is the second.

1.  MARITAL DISCORD - Hinders Prayers

1 PETER 3:7 says,
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

-    What is this passage saying exactly?

o    Pay close attention to your wife. Don’t ignore or neglect her. Listen to her heart and invest in her spiritual growth.
o    Highly esteem and value your wife both in your heart, with your words and actions.
o    Remembering that she is fragile, physically weaker and emotional. She’s easily bruised and discouraged by cruel words. Also, she is one with you on earth and in the promises of Christ. You both walk the same path in Christ, so why treat her any less?

When we belittle, distrust, ignore, reject, neglect or mistreat our spouse in any way we’re in danger of hindered prayers, whether we believe it or not.
Some of the priests in the OT displeased God in this area and their prayers were hindered:

MALACHI 2:13-15
13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. 14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth

o    Again, if you are a man who like these priests mistreats his wife in any way, your prayers are hindered. Keep in mind that offering up prayers was their main duty! Yet their prayers along with their tears were rejected because God sees past their tears. The priests were unfaithful to their wives.

If you’re unfaithful in any way, your prayers are hindered. If you’re a man who watches porn, your prayers are hindered and your soul is in danger. If your spouse isn’t good enough and you desire better, your prayers are hindered. If you’re angry, bitter or controlling, your prayers are hindered (And you can still pray all you want but just know that God isn’t listening at the moment).

-    What are the implications of hindered prayers: What are some prayers that husbands send to heaven?

o    Prayer for financial stability (a raise or promotion), a better house and car, protection over their children, the salvation of a loved one, more wisdom and favor, to become a better witness for Christ.
§  Now imagine God saying, “I’m not going to answer these prayers right now, first get things right with your spouse.” Humbling, right? That’s exactly what happens when there is marital discord.

-    I remember a time in my marriage when I wasn’t being the husband I was called to be for Marla and I kid you not, every time I tried to pray I felt as though my prayers bounced off the ceiling. Not only was my heart hindered, but so was my study time and my worship. And I’m one who loves to seek God and sing praises unto Him.

o    In regards to my marriage, now I constantly allow the Spirit of Lord to scan my heart for viruses like they do for computers. I make sure that our marriage is healthy and that she is spiritually strong. The last thing I want is for God to plug His ears when I pray, preach or sing.
o    My relationship with my wife affects my relationship with Christ. If I’m disconnected with my wife, then I’m disconnected with God. Prayer is one of my favorite things to do, I can’t imagine them being hindered!

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  

Therefore, marital discord – hinders prayers

2.  INSINCERITY – Hinders Prayers

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him

The prayers of the Pharisees were obviously insincere. They prayed only to be seen and heard by others.

o    They prayed beautiful prayers only to make people believe that they were holy lovers of God, this way men would praise them for their piety and spirituality.
o    They used many words only so that they can boast about the length of their prayers. They became repetitive when they ran out of words but anything to appear a prayer warrior.
o    The Lord said that “they have their reward” and it wasn’t answered prayers but judgment for their phony prayers.

When we pray to appear spiritual, to kill time or just because everyone else is praying, be assured that our prayers are hindered.
When we pray to impress or compete with others our prayers are automatically hindered. God is not impressed by fervent facial expressions and fancy words; He listens to the language of the heart.

This happens in church circles and prayer meetings, where pastors feel that they must ‘out-pray’ the laymen and impress the new comers. Some may even pray in King James Version to sound a little more spiritual:
“Oh Lord, who dwelleth in the midst of Heaven, thou knowest thy servant well, hearken now unto me I prayeth. Amen and amen

-    God is looking for simplicity and sincerity. Again, our God reads the heart.
-    Praying over our food, can become a dull routine and if we’re not careful we can easily become insincere.
-    I remember this one time when I prayed for my sons just before going to bed and when I finished praying and left them, the Holy Spirit convicted me because my prayer wasn’t sincere and He told me to go back and pray again! This time I wept over my precious boys as I prayed and kissed them while they slept.

Hinder means: “to block, make slow or difficult.”

Hindered prayers are like a runner trying to run the 100-yard dash only with shackles on his feet. He wants the gold metal but can’t get to the finish line fast enough.
Or like a pro quarterback who needs to throw a long touchdown pass for the win only he has to throw the football with handcuffs on.  – One is hindered in his running, another in his throwing and many in the church in their praying.

AFTERWARD – By James Fire

If we are going to take our relationship with the LORD, we must take seriously the relationships we have with those that the LORD has given us – our spouses most especially, but also our family in Christ as well as our parents, our children, our siblings, even friends and neighbors – anyone that the LORD has brought into our lives. We must live godly and exemplify a godly lifestyle, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us (MATT 7:12).

And to love one another as the LORD loves us (JOHN 13:34) – we can only do this by the power of God’s grace and yielding to that grace in obedience out of a heart of love for Him.
May we carefully examine the relationships we have, bring them all to the LORD in prayer and ask Him to bring judgment as to how we are (or not) pleasing Him.

Likewise, throughout the Scripture, it speaks of those having a “perfect” and “upright heart” (2 SAM. 22:24, 26; PSALM 101:2, 6). This does not mean being sinless, but sincere, honest, genuine – without hypocrisy and pretense. It is vital that we not pretend to be something we are not out of a motivation to appear to be better, holier, more righteous than we really are. The humble person is a perfect and upright person, not given to pride or self-exaltation, and is honest before God and people (COL 3:12).

HINDERED PRAYERS – Part 2                     
Prayer is priority - Prayer supersedes practical responsibility (though at times, both are necessary). I.e. (EXODUS 17) - When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites notice that Moses was praying at the top of the hill (above the battle), while Joshua was down low hacking away at the Amalekites. In other words, prayer goes before life choices. Seek God first, perform actions second.

So far, we’ve learned that both, marital discord & insincerity hinder prayer in Part One
Today’s teaching is titled “Hindered Prayers – Part 2”

Today I’m going to go over 2 more ways in which our prayers can be hindered.

3. SELFISHNESS – Hinders prayer

You ask
(pray) and do not receive, because you ask amiss (selfishly/wrong motives), that you may spend (squander) it on your pleasures (lusts).

-    I can only image how many prayers are offered up to God daily but are rejected due to selfish motives.
o    We live in a self-centered culture (“Me, myself, and I!”) and if we’re not careful, that selfishness will creep into our prayers (if it hasn’t already).

-    James goes on to say in

Don’t you know
 that friendship with the world is enmity
(hostile towards) with God?

o    In other words, when we pray selfish prayers those desires are hostile towards God because they undermine His will and threaten His Kingdom. God desires to build His Kingdom not ours. He desires for His Name to be great not ours.
God won’t conform to our agenda, He conforms us to His. We are to jump into His wagon not He in ours. By the way, His toe wouldn’t fit in ours :) and even if it did, our wagon wouldn’t be able to carry Him!

o    God longs for us to ask Him to do those things that will magnify His Name alone and that will bless others!

When we pray along the lines of the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life” we are praying and acting like God’s enemies not God’s friends. (1 JOHN 2:15-16)

It’s the world (the wicked, godless) that asks for and desires (and will even kill for) fame, fortune, power and the sinful pleasures of this passing world (1 JOHN 2:17).

If we are worldly minded, then our prayers will be self-centered but if we’re heavenly minded then our prayers will be Christ-centered. (COL 3:1-3)

Is it OK to pray for nice wholesome things to enjoy? Of course, “every good and perfect gift is from above.” (JAMES 1:17) “And He gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 TIMOTHY 6:17).

·  But, when things that gratify self are always on our minds and in our prayers, there is something wrong. As disciples of Christ we should be storing up treasures in heaven (MATT 6:20)

Praying to be elevated and promoted with wrong motives is evil – AN EXAMPLE OF A SELFISH PRAYER:

-    In MATTHEW 20:20-21, two disciples had their mother ask Jesus to allow them to sit next Him when He takes the throne. One on the left and the other on the right. This selfish request (prayer) caused the other ten disciples to become angry. This also teaches us that selfish prayers harm others.
o    These two disciples wanted to be exalted above the rest. They wanted power and prestige.

-   This still happens today in the church – One prays for wisdom only to have a fat bible head and to be able to write good books that will make it on the NY Times Best Sellers list. Another prays for the gift of healing to start a healing crusade and make lots of money. And another asked God to bless his ministry and add to the church only to become bigger and better than the church down the street. God rejects and even detest rotten motives!

o    The interesting thing about selfish prayer is that God doesn’t read our lips, He reads our hearts!

JOB 35:12
There they cry out, but He doesn’t answer, because of the pride of evil men. Surely God will not listen to empty talk, nor will the Almighty regard it
– Selfish prayers are pride and empty talk.

The glory of God and the good of others must always be at the forefront of every prayer. If not, we’re just wasting our breath – And if prayer is like breathing then bad prayers are like bad breath that causes God to plug His nose! Selfish prayers stink!
Selfless prayers move the heart and hand of God –
-    When Solomon took the place of his father King David, He prayed selflessly and God granted his request. [A portion of Solomon’s prayer] 

1 KINGS 3:9-13 says,
Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of Yours?

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So, God replied,
Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 

-    There is nothing that God won’t give us if what we ask will bring Him glory and further His purposes.

4. COLDNESS (of heart) – Hinders prayer

JAMES 5:16b says that,
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

-  “fervent”: Having or showing very strong feelings. Synonyms: Blazing, emotional, warm, intense.

How many times have we come to the throne of God without a flame in our hearts in prayer?  Stale and indifferent, affection-less and disinterested, no passion, no zeal . . . just a block of ice for a heart.

-  Do we talk to our First Love like we would talk to a total stranger?
-  Try getting your wife’s intimate undivided attention while being cold-hearted towards her. I guarantee she won’t budge until there is real love!
-   When Nehemiah received word on the sad and ruined condition of Jerusalem he didn’t respond with a 5-minute tearless prayer, no He wept and mourned for many days over Jerusalem and His people. And this fiery prayer moved the heart of God. 

Read NEHEMIAH 1:4-7 [Due to Nehemiah’s rendered heart in prayer, Jerusalem was restored!]

[NOTE from James: For more on Nehemiah and how God desires restoration in our ruined lives, click on the following link: WANTED – Righteous Raiment 
And for some more of the same, read The JOSIAH Mandate]

Question: When we pray for others are we moved with compassion and passion (MATT 9:36; 14:14; MARK 1:41)? When we pray for ruined souls, and marriages, ruined ministries and testimonies, is your intersession accompanied by tears (2 TIM 1:4)? These kinds of tears are like diamonds to God.

-    When Jesus prayed, His prayers were mixed reverence and tears.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared

[vehement/fervent] [godly fear/reverence]. There were times when Jesus prayed alone because His disciples wouldn’t understand His pain and passion. I bet people would think I was crazy If they were able to hear some of my closet prayers!

·      There should be no pastor or spiritual leader who prays with dry eyes:

JOEL 2:17-20
17 Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God 18 Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: 20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things

Weeping pastors bring spiritual refreshment (PSALM 30:5;126:6) to the church and victory over our enemies (sin & Satan; JAMES 5:15).

o    We need to seek God in prayer as though He were our first love, not our second, third or last love. 

PSALM 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord
(enjoy His company, be tender to His touch, yielded) and He will give you the desires of your (new) heart.

AFTERWARD – By James Fire:

On the issue of selfishness being a hindrance of prayer, there is much to say, but the primary point that should be made in addition to our brother Sonny’s keen observations, is that as the body of Christ – we are to be all about others: firstly, the LORD Himself, and then everyone else.
God teaches us this even with how our own bodies work: there is no member that serves itself – every part is designed to serve all the other parts. If a projectile hurtles towards your eye, your neck immediately turns the head and the hand comes upward in a flash – everything happens for the good of protecting the eye.
Likewise we are not to focus on our own burdens, but on the burdens of others (GAL 6:2). The only example where one member of our bodies takes care of itself alone, even at the expense and health of all the other members is something called cancer. And cancer in the body of Christ can rightly be labeled as selfishness. Such is a detriment to the health of the body, and most certainly the health of one’s prayer life!

Coldness is the next condition pastor Sonny mentioned as a hindrance to prayer. Our LORD spoke to the church of Laodicea and rendered the righteous judgment that they were lukewarm. He stated that He would rather that the church there was hot or cold, but that lukewarm spiritual condition so nauseated Him that He was ready to vomit them out of His mouth (REV 3:16).

But this is not at all to say that He preferred them to be spiritually cold, of course! Spiritual coldness and indifference to the LORD is a reprehensible crime against His heart, which has such passionate, all-consuming love for us, that it directs all of His motivation for our good, to His greater glory: His command to love Him with ALL of our hearts and ALL of our souls and ALL of our minds and ALL of our strength is a reasonable one (DEUT 10:12), because He loves us in this very same way: and He proved that by dying on the cross for all of our sins (GAL 2:20; EPH 3:19)!

Next time we will go over four more hindrances to our prayers in Parts 3 and 4:
1) Lack of confidence, 2) overlooking God’s will, 3) simply NOT praying and 4) an evil lifestyle – all on The TRUTH Under FIRE!
Until then, may our prayers be unhindered as we approach God with righteous relationships with spouses (and others), as well as sincere, unselfish and passionate hearts for the LORD!

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