“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
My husband and I just spent the last four hours in the company of two friends who passionately love Jesus and therefore love people well. We both certainly felt loved and encouraged from the time spent with them. The conversation naturally evolved into talk of faith, sharing our faith, what it looks like to follow Jesus, and more specifically prayer (communicating with God). What I loved about our conversation was the authenticity that was displayed as we all shared how we pray and how we listen to God speaking to us. That’s what got me thinking. Far too often, I see prayer as a time when I sit down and talk to God, or rather talk at God. What I’m freshly convicted of tonight is this: how often do I practice listening to Him, quieting my heart and my racing thoughts in order to hear His voice speak to me?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we were meant to live lives that reflect a powerful God who is alive and at work in this world. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we’ve been charged with the responsibility to go into all the world, to make disciples, to baptize in His name, to heal, and to live victoriously. Yet, as I look around me and even within myself, I see Christians living powerless lives, not accessing the power that has been given to us, and thus failing to fulfill our purpose to bring God’s Kingdom to this earth. What are we doing with what God has given us? Why do our lives fail to demonstrate this power? As I wrestled with these thoughts all night long, I came to settle on this common denominator: prayer. Prayer is our direct access to the throne room of God, our means of communicating with our heavenly Father, and it is what connects us to the power that God is ready and willing to extend to us. The same power that God exerted to raise Christ from the dead is the same power that He gives us access to as His children through the Holy Spirit. Are we accessing it? Are our prayers being hindered because we’re failing in this regard?
Several years ago, I had the privilege to attend a week long Bible conference at a camp in Ontario, Canada with some friends. It was like Vacation Bible School for adults, and I loved it! I don’t know about you, but I am an avid reader and note taker. Each day, we sat through two services with times of worship and teaching in each, and the theme of the week was prayer. Oh the rich truths that I learned that week from God’s Word are ones that I still treasure to this day! I took many notes, and I’ve used the teaching from that week multiple times in my own ministry to point women closer to the truths of God’s Word. One session in particular was spent addressing 10 Hindrances To Prayer. It truly was one of those “light bulb” moments for me. God opened my eyes to areas of sin and unbelief in my own life that were hindering my prayers. I want to share these with you in hopes that you too will be encouraged. One thing I know to be true is that God’s Word is alive and active, and it’s sharper that any double-edged sword; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, and it accomplishes the purposes it sets out to do. As you spend time reading through the list below and the accompanying verses, let God’s Word change you. Let it accomplish the divine purpose God intends it to in your life, and begin to see your prayer life awaken to new life. God is doing a new thing!
10 Hindrances to Prayer
- Unbelief – Hebrews 11:6: Without faith it is impossible to please God. Do you believe that God can do what He says He can do?
- Hypocrisy – Matthew 6:5: Does my private prayer life exceed my public prayer life? Do I pray regularly even when others aren’t watching?
- Vain Repetition – Matthew 6:7-8: It’s not the quantity but the quality of my words.
- Unforgiveness – Matthew 6:14-15: Forgive and you’ll be forgiven. Who do you need to forgive?
- Sleepiness – Matthew 26:41: The flesh is weak. Give God your best time.
- Willfully rejecting God’s Word – Proverbs 28:9: Your prayer will be an abomination to God.
- Neglecting those in need – Proverbs 21:13: When we turn a deaf ear to the cries of those in need, God turns a deaf ear to our cries.
- Discouragement – Luke 18:1-8: God’s delays are not of inactivity but of preparation. His timing is perfect in all things.
- Marital discord – 1 Peter 3:7: We can have but one covenant relationship on this side of heaven other than our relationship with God. Take care of it.
- Unconfessed sin – Psalm 66:18: Confess and repent. Agree with God in the matter of your sin, and turn from it.