Lesson 10: Prayer – Barriers to Effective Prayer
Objective: Understand God’s requirements for hearing and answering your prayers.
If I pray, won’t God always hear me and give me what I ask for? A survey of the Bible on this topic suggests that the answer is yes AND no. Yes he hears you, but no, he may not always give you what you ask for.
The Bible refers to several barriers to effective prayer. It is clear that we CAN have a profound influence over God’s responsiveness to prayer through important factors, such as 1) are we pursuing God’s will or our own, 2) our level of righteous living-how we are dealing with Sin in our lives, and 3) our faith in God’s ability to answer our prayers.
Let’s explore each barrier and learn what God requires of us.
1) If you are in God’s word and will, producing fruit, and loving one another with mutual respect, then God will hear your prayers.
John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you“. This verse suggests that we need to be reading the Bible and allowing God’s words to saturate us. Are you doing this?
John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” This verse suggests that if we are producing the fruit that God has called us to produce, we may ask of God in Jesus’ Name and he will answer our prayers. Are you bearing fruit according to God’s calling in your life?
1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Although addressed to Husbands, this verse can also be applied to Wives. It suggests that if we are not being considerate of our spouse, and treating them with love and respect, then our prayers will be hindered. If you are married, how are you treating your spouse? If you are not married, how are you treating your boy/girlfriend or family members?
2) The second barrier to effective prayer is based on how you are addressing sin in your life. Are you cherishing/embracing your sin or are you fighting against it?
Psalm 66:17-20 “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
Isaiah 59:1-2 “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities (sin) have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
Ezekiel 14:3 “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?”
Read James 5:13-18. Verse 16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
All of these verses confront the issue of sin in our lives. Have you given yourself over to your sinful desires or are you confessing your sins to one another and striving to live a righteous life? Are there any sins in your life you wish to confess now to your mentor?
3) The final barrier is about our faith in God. You must believe and not doubt.
James 1:6-7 “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Do you believe God will answer your prayers? Do you believe God can and does answer prayers?
Action: Sometime this week, re-read the verses from this lesson. Did anything from this week’s lesson convict you of an area you need to focus on? (seeking God’s will, producing fruit, living a more righteous life, confessing sins, resolving doubts about God, etc.) Continue praying each day this week, and ask God to help you with those specific areas. Share any other thoughts or questions about this lesson with your mentor below.