The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16)
We often pray and it appears nothing is happening, but there are a few things that will hinder our prayers. Remove barriers and see how things can change.
1. Unconfessed Sin: This is the biggest prayer killer (Psalm 66:18). It will actually push God away from us. The good news is that if we confess our sin, the whiteboard of our lives is wiped clean, we start over fresh. Check out Jeremiah 31:14 and 1 John 1:9. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that sin demands a man to be by himself. “The more isolated he is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more disastrous is the isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person.” (Life Together, published 1954).
2. Lack of Faith: There’s a great story in Mark 6:1-6, the hometown of Jesus prevented him from doing any miracles there due to their lack of faith. It amazed even Jesus. James 1:5-8 talks about a person being double-minded, where one is emotionally divided. This make the person unstable and incapable of hearing from God.
3. Disobedience: John challenges us toward obedience because of our love for Jesus (1 John 3:21-23). We don’t obey to be loved by God, but we obey because we love God. There is a difference.
4. Lack of Transparency with God and Others: We often give in to temptation when we are alone, and then we hide it from others, believing we might even hide it from God. James 5:16 commands us to confess to one another that we may be healed. We confess to God to be forgiven, we confess to others to be healed. The most difficult part of confession is our own ego. Pride becomes our stumbling block.
5. Unforgiveness: After receiving such great forgiveness from God, how dare we withhold forgiveness from others? (Matthew 18:21, 22) It is the Spirit of God who gives us the power to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15).
6. Wrong Motives: When our prayers are not right, there is no power (James 4:3). Here are two things that reveal our motives: 1) a project greater than ourselves, and 2) prayer (God will show us our motives).
7. Idols in Our Lives: No, it is not the little statue any more. Idols can be of the heart (Ezekiel 14:3). Don’t let anything take over your heart except God alone.
8. Disregard for Others: When we do this, God sees (Psalm 33:13), his view is expansive. Jesus tells us what to do, love one another (John 13:34). The way husbands treat their wives can actually hinder our prayers (1 Peter 3:7).
9. Disregard for God’s Sovereignty: God has a hold of everything, nothing catches him by surprise, note Jeremiah 1:5. Part of our daily prayer should be for God’s will to be done on earth (Matthew 6:9-10). Take self off the throne, and embrace God’s being in charge.
10. Unsurrendered Will: This is the next step after item nine, because if our will is not under his control, we stubbornly assert our own will in all aspects of life. The Bible gives plenty of promises (John 15:7, 1 Peter 3:12, Psalm 139:23-24).