"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, May 14, 2017

Hindered Prayers: Part 7 And Final Thoughts

By Pastor Sonny Islas
Afterword by James Fire

We’ve learned a handful of reasons why our prayers may be hindered. And if we desire to have a rich prayer life, we must take heed to scripture. When we walk contrary to God’s Word, God walks contrary to us (LEV 26:23,24) and therefore puts our prayers on hold. 
LEVITICUS 26:19 says, And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:

When Israel refused to obey God’s Word, they experienced Drought and Barrenness – And if we don’t take heed to God’s Word we too will not enjoy the rain and fruit of answered prayers. We don’t want our prayers ricocheting off an iron heaven to a brass earth (where we’re sending up prayers but they’re just bouncing right back!) – like a paddle ball or a game of tether ball.


15. A Lack of Faith Hinders Prayer –  Regarding the need for wisdom in difficult times, 

JAMES 1:5-7 says,
If any of you lacks wisdom (as coming only from the Holy Bible), let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything (not only wisdom) from the Lord;

“Let him ask of God”
We are all so ready to go to books, to go to men, to go to ceremonies, to anything except to God. . . . Consequently, the text does not say, ‘Let him ask books,’ nor ‘ask priests,’ but, ‘let him ask of God.'” ~ Charles Spurgeon
In other words, we are to go to God first in prayer. This is taking the first step towards faith-filled prayer!
To come to God in prayer and yet doubt that He can answer is to be double-minded. It’s like having two minds, the first one comes to God but the second mind doubts Him.
One who doubts God is “like the wave of the sea”: Unsure, unstable, and restless. Like a wave vacillating (back and forth). It’s moved by the wind (doubt) not by faith in God.
Faith gets the blessing, unbelief leaves disappointed and empty-handed. “Let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
Unbelief in prayer is an insult to a mighty God! Will we doubt the God [of Truth] Who has created the universe with the words of His mouth? The one who hung this terrestrial ball in midair? We can’t fathom His wisdom yet we doubt His power!

HEBREWS 11:6  
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Or get His attention). 
And we don’t place our faith in faith, or in our petition, or in self, but in God alone, both to save us and to answer our prayers.

1 TIMOTHY 2:8 
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting

Paul wanted to find people praying but without doubting)
Keep in mind that there will be times when we do pray in faith but what we’re praying for may not be God’s will. So then trusting in God no matter the outcome is firm faith.
Job says, Though He slay me, yet will I trust HimJOB 13:15 (now that’s faith!)

Some fake T.V. evangelist may say, “You didn’t receive your healing because you didn’t have enough faith.” But could it be that it just wasn’t God’s will? The Apostle Paul prayed that God would heal him 3 times and God said no. Paul didn’t lack faith, it just wasn’t God’s will that’s all.

"Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade Him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by His Spirit to move ourselves His way." ~ Leonard Ravenhill

16. Unforgiveness Hinders Prayer 

MARK 11:25-26 

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

If we cling to unforgiveness our prayers are hindered. The greatest need in prayer is forgiveness from God and even that becomes hindered!
Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. Forgiveness doesn’t always look like total reconciliation depending on the magnitude of the offence. If in our hearts we have any ill will towards that person who has harmed us, then we know that we still have unforgiveness.
Forgiveness is not ONLY about freeing one’s self, it is, but it’s more about obeying God in regards to walking in love. Some say “Forgive to be free.”

I say, Forgive because God commands it! Because it’s not about us, it’s about honoring Christ and loving others! Forgive because Christ is Master! It’s about having a clear conscience and connection with God in prayer.

LUKE 6:36-38
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

What you desire from God, (in this case mercy) we ought to give to others. God will give to us what we give to others. If we condemn others, He’ll condemn us. If we hold back mercy from others, He will hold back mercy from us.
“We are never more like God than when we forgive.” – John MacArthur

17. Offences Not Dealt With – Hindered Prayer

MATTHEW 5:23,24

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

If we bear malice, hate, gossip, slander, grudges, envy, jealously and unforgiveness, our prayers are hindered.
What Christ is teaching us here is that God is far more concerned about our relationships that He is about our religious duty! In other words, stop praying, singing, preaching (gifts unto the Lord) and first get thing right with that person!

God is not impressed with great ministry. He’s pleased with great love!

We think that because we come to church and do our religious duties that God is pleased but in the end, we’re just fooling ourselves if we haven’t dealt with those offences first.

"You cannot speak crossly (in a cold-blooded way) to workers or family or join in a big fight or in small squabbles and then go and pray with power. Get up and go and settle the matter before you try to talk with God, for the prayer of angry men makes God angry." ~ Charles Spurgeon

“And there remember” – Ask the Lord and be honest, “whom have I offended?” Examine your heart then make things right.

ROMANS 12:18 
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
 – in other words, resolve a.s.a.p. before the devil gets involved!
Let’s be aware that repeated offences separate friends.

He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter (continues the offences) separates friends.

In other words, people are people and they can only take so much).

Let’s pray that The Holy Spirit leads us, teaches us and guides us in overcoming these hindrances. The Lord doesn’t want any walls between us and Him when we pray.

I really hope that this 7-part series on Hindered prayer has blessed you as it has me :)


After this comprehensive series on learning of all the potential hindrances in our prayers and their causes, let's review them, shall we?

1) Marital Discord - The LORD takes His relationship with His bride very seriously, and so must we. Particularly if we hope to have our prayers unhindered, we must be very attentive in the marital relationships we have. Remembering that each of us is a gift of God for their spouse and a blessing - if in fact such a marriage is based upon, led and indwelt by Christ - let us not take each other for granted, to say nothing of neglecting or abusing one another. An unhealthy marriage will inevitably lead to, and is probably caused by an ineffective prayer life!

2) Insincerity - If we are insincere before the LORD, we are only lying to ourselves about our failings, our weaknesses, our desires and attitudes because no one can lie to the God Whose Eyes Burn as flame, Who sees all of the true intentions and motives of the heart! Anyone who wears a mask in an attempt to hide their heart from the LORD, will find themselves unable to find in prayer, the God Who will hide Himself from such hypocrisy. We must be upright, honest and sincere, willingly humbling ourselves and confess, and be washed by the blood of the Lamb from sin and pride.

3) Selfishness - In our American culture especially, the love and exaltation of self is central to our modern views; we even have a magazine called Self, are taught to have 'self-esteem' and always look after 'Number One'! This idea hasn't even crept into the church - more like marched right into the sanctuary and welcomed! Christ declared in no uncertain terms however that if we ever intend to be His disciple, we are to "deny self" and "pick up our cross" and die to self! Selfishness is a cancer in the body of Christ that takes and takes, without ever thinking of giving, and can kill fellowship! We cannot hope to be heard of God if we oppose Him with an attitude that is diametrically opposed to His heart of grace and giving!

4) Coldness - Again, thinking of the marriage relationship: how long do you think your marriage would last if your spouse consistently, daily, regularly treated you with coldness? Not long at all! The passion of Christ, His love for us sinners, was so all-consuming and supremely fervent that He wholly sacrificed Himself at Calvary to win us back from our enslavement to sin and Satan. This is why it's entirely equitable (not at all unreasonable) of God to demand that we love Him with ALL of our hearts, and ALL of our souls, minds and strength: because that is how He loved and loves us! Coldness of heart will leave us 'out in the cold' if we seek God in prayer!

5 & 15) Lack of Confidence/Lack of Faith - God is a God of absolute truth and righteousness. He is a God of His Word Who says what He means, and means what He says! The LORD Jesus said that "heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away." As dependable as the sky above and the earth below to be there tomorrow morning when you look out your window (anyone ever have any anxiety, worried that maybe they've disappeared??!), Jesus says that His Word is far, far more dependable. Not having confident faith in the LORD is an offense to Him, Who cannot lie, Who is ever faithful to fulfill His Word and will certainly result in hindered prayer! Let us lay hold by faith the promises and pronouncements of God in prayer, nothing doubting!
We may be weak in the faith, uncertain of God's forgiveness for our sins, timid in our approach of the Throne of God. Yet we have every reason to be absolutely confident, again, because God declares sinners righteous in His sight if they express true faith in Christ!

6 & 9) Overlooking God's will/Staying Away from God's Word - Are we disciples of Christ? The LORD said, that if we continue in His Word, then are we disciples indeed and we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free. Only we saints, whose hearts are prone to continue in the Word: its reading, study and application (obedience) in our lives by God's grace will be blessed by answered prayer. If we abide in the Vine - the LORD Jesus - as branches of His beloved, He assures us that we will bear fruit for the glory of God. That is His will! Knowing the Word of God for the intent of obeying His will is absolute assurance of an unhindered prayer life - and refusing to do this, will assure that such prayers are hindered absolutely!

7) Not Praying - Rather obvious, right? Yet how many times have we felt that we can 'manage things' without resorting to prayer? The Bible admonishes us to pray on all things: the big and important as well as the small and seemingly insignificant (though God's love for you is such that NOTHING about you is insignificant to Him!). Prayer is our life line to the LORD - as we commune and fellowship with Him, He touches and blesses, directs and strengthens our hearts as we walk before Him. We receive our 'orders from headquarters' from the Captain of our Salvation in prayer.
We are the body of Christ and He is our Head, the Head of the Church: yet if the body doesn't communicate with the head, we cannot receive direction and this results in cerebral palsy. Spiritually speaking, remember: Prayerlessness brings spiritual paralysis to the body of Christ!

8) An Evil Lifestyle - This closely ties in with insincerity; what word do you see in the middle of insincerity? SIN! If we conduct ourselves as the world does, loving the things of the world, and living like the devil throughout the week, only to look like angels on Sunday morning, what hope can we possibly have in answered prayer? Answer: NONE! Except for one, from a truly sincere and repentant heart: "God be merciful to me, a sinner!" Our life is in Christ, not in the world - if we desire prayers to proceed to the throne of God unhindered, then let us seek to please the LORD in our lives, our thoughts and desires. Let us seek His grace in changing any and all things He points out in us to repent of!

10) A Lack of Persistence - Are our prayers half-hearted; do we genuinely believe that our prayers will be answered? In either case, this may lead us to relent and give up in prayer. It is the heart that knows the heart of God, which compels them to persevere, knowing that God answers prayer, even if He "bears long" with them. If we would have our prayers unhindered, may we ask God for hearts that refuse to give up on Him. Let us labor in our intercessions and, as the saints of old would say, "pray it through [until the answer comes]!"

11) Anxiety - This is unfounded fear of the decidedly unhealthy kind. Scripture plainly tells us "to be careful [anxious] for nothing" and yet, what do we do? Anxiety in a sense is the polar opposite of faith. Faith is primarily an implicit, unreserved and wholly committed trust in the LORD. Anxiety is fear, and the lack of trust. It inspires uncertainty, dread, worry - (and it's interesting that the very word 'worry' comes from an Old English word meaning 'to torment'!). Anxiety is a symptom of a heart that is not resting in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. It is a weakness we encourage when we don't lay hold on the truth of God and believe Him. Let us confess such sin, renounce it, and ask the LORD to "help my unbelief". He will!

12) Refusing to Help the Needy - The LORD is ever watchful over orphans, widows, the poor and needy - just a casual review of the Psalms tells us this. If we truly mirror God's heart, His concerns will be our concerns, and extending mercy to help those in genuine need, touches the heart of God. On the other hand, if we harden our hearts against these vulnerable ones, this will hinder our prayers. To whom mercy has been granted (us, by the grace of Jesus Christ), the same are givers of mercy. Let us share the mercy and grace that the LORD has given us, to others and be His hands, heart and feet.

13) Idols - This was one of the primary reasons why Israel went into bondage in Babylon! God waited for centuries for His people to repent, and when they didn't judgment finally came, they were carried away as slaves, and Jerusalem was ransacked, ruined and wrecked! Anything in our lives that takes a higher priority than God does, IS AN IDOL! And because His chastening may not come right away - as He is waiting for us to repent - we might think that "it's OK with God" - idolatry is never OK, no matter what form it may take. Like Josiah of the Old Testament, we need to examine the temple that we are in Christ, just as he scrutinized the temple at Jerusalem, and rid them of anything offensive that would hinder our prayer lives!

14) Unconfessed Sin - Sin is such a deadly force, that it took no one less than God made flesh, the LORD Jesus Christ Himself to destroy its power! When we harbor sin, it festers in our hearts, working its corrupting influences and bringing death to various facets of our lives, killing off our communion with the LORD, our prayer lives, our hunger for the Word, our relationships with other saints, and if unchecked, like leaven (yeast) it will grow and spread until our entire lives fall under its effect. David's sin with Bathsheba is a prime example!
Just look at the ruin his sin wrought in his own family, as well as the death of his child he had by Bathsheba! Unconfessed sin is the barricade at the door of our access in prayer to God's throne room!

16) Unforgiveness - We are all offended at the offensive behavior of others at various times in our lives. It's inevitable that offenses will come: we are still indwelt by a sin-nature and as a result, we do and say hurtful things to one another. I know I've been offended, even bitter at times at some of the things that were said or done to me. But when I consider how much the LORD forgave me, ALL of my sin, who am I to harbor unforgiveness, when the Holy One of God, by His grace, has freely forgiven me?! When we cling to unforgiveness, and its close cousin, bitterness, our prayers will definitely be hindered!

17) Undealt with Offenses - This is on the part of the one who offends . . . the one that has given cause for someone else to be offended, and thus risking bitterness and unforgiveness to settle in their hearts. We must always be sensitive to the Spirit of God, and have a soft heart regarding His leading. So often we may say or do something without thinking, and unintentionally wound someone with a careless remark. Even worse, we may inflict someone with words intended to hurt. How can we expect our prayers to be heard by the LORD, if we will not humble ourselves and seek forgiveness from those we have offended? Answer: we can't! Let us be sure that we are a people who are quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. If we walk in the grace of God, we will live inoffensive lives towards others, particularly those who love the truth!

Here ends this series on HINDERED PRAYER by Sonny Islas, pastor of ETERNAL LIVING WORD CHURCH. May the LORD bless and keep us as our prayer lives flourish in the courts of our God, approaching His throne of grace in the Almighty Name of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD! AMEN!

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