Study 9 HOW OUR PRAYERS ARE HINDERED
PRAYING ALWAYS WITH ALL PRAYER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 Peter 3:1-12)
This study is based upon 1 Peter 3:7, and notice that in this verse the Apostle takes it for granted that Christians habitually pray. Prayer is assumed to be the regular habit of the believing soul. Dare we take it for granted that because we are Christians we pray? Sadly some do not pray! They do not pray privately and they do not have family prayers. How often we are hindered from praying, and even when we do pray how often our prayers are hindered! We know this is true because our own experience tells us so, and because the Bible tells us what those hindrances are.
Scattered throughout the Word of God are clear warnings and statements that leave us in no doubt at all as to how our prayers are hindered – look up Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 21:13; 28:9; Isaiah 59:2; Ezekiel 14:3; Malachi 3:7-10; Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 5:23-24; Mark 11:25; James 1:6-8; 4:3; 1 John 3:21-22.
1. THE HINDRANCES THAT PREVENT US FROM PRAYING
If you allow yourself to become spiritually slack and careless you will soon find that prayer is hindered; your desire for prayer will go and your estimate of prayer will change completely. Or, if you neglect the Bible and give up reading it you will find prayer is hindered. Overwork will crowd out prayer. It is possible to be so busy for God that there is little or no time left for quiet, uninterrupted prayer. Beware of the barrenness of a busy life! A worldly spirit will hinder prayer. If our affections are set upon earthly things to such an extent that we are neglecting heavenly and spiritual things, then prayer will most certainly be hindered. It is also true that a badly ordered life will hinder prayer. To be very late to bed is not conducive to early rising and is therefore a hindrance to the morning devotional time with God. Probably you will think of other hindrances, ‘blocks’ that stand in the pathway that leads to the place of prayer (Acts 16:13).
2. THE HINDRANCES THAT PREVENT US FROM PREVAILING IN PRAYER
We must consider hindrances that prevent our prayers from being effective, so that we pray but get no answers to our prayers. In 1 Peter chapter 3 the Apostle mentions seven hindrances to prayer, and the key phrase is at the end of verse 7. When we pray and fail to gain the answer it may be due to one or other of the following reasons:-
- 1. A wrong relationship with God. Look at verse 12 and notice particularly “…their prayer” – that is, the prayer of the righteous, or those who are right with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ – compare Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; James 5:16. We must know the Lord Jesus as our Saviour (Matthew 1:21) and God as our heavenly Father (John 14:6) before we can be sure that our prayers will be heard and answered.
- 2. A wrong relationship with others. Study verses 1-7 carefully. The relationship between husband and wife must be such as honours God – look up also 1 Peter 2:13-20. Prayers can be hindered by the failure of the woman to recognise her God-ordained place (verse 1), and husbands can hinder prayer also, as verse 7 tells us. Servants and masters can hinder prayer, as 1 Peter 2:18 points out. How searching all these verses are and how important it is that we make sure that our relationships with others are pleasing to God.
- 3. Worldly and provocative dress can hinder prayer. How up-to-date verses 3-4 are in their application! Compare 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 51:6; Isaiah 3:17-26. The Lord does not want us to look intentionally dowdy or even wildly conspicuous in the matter of dress; He desires us to be modest, attractive and disciplined in this as in all other matters.
- 4. A proud, haughty spirit can hinder prayer. See what verse 4 tells us. How beautiful to have a meek and a quiet spirit! Look up and think about Luke 18:9-14. When we come before the Throne of Grace and realise God’s greatness and our nothingness then we are in the place where prayer will surely be effective.
- 5. Lack of Christian love will hinder prayer. Verses 8 and 9 tell us this, and what a wealth there is in these two verses! What a blessing would result if we would think through these verses on our knees! What a need there is for God’s people to be compassionate, sympathetic, courteous, kind, gentle! – and these are the conditions that must be met if we are going to be successful pray-ers.
- 6. Unclean lips will surely hinder prayer. See how searching verses 10-11 are. They tell us that the lips that utter prayer must be clean and that God can never hear and answer prayers that are uttered by gossiping, lying, deceitful or unkind lips. Look up Isaiah 6:5.
- 7. A bad conscience will hinder prayer. See what verses 16 and 21 say. What a great thing it is to be able to look up into the face of our loving heavenly Father and to know that we have “a conscience void of offence” (Acts 24:16, KJV). Matthew 5:23 helps us here. If, when you come to the place of prayer to make known your requests to the Lord, you remember something that is displeasing or grieving to Him, that is the thing that is hindering prayer, and that is the thing that must be dealt with.