By Clifton Jones
Needless to say, anything as needful and meaningful as prayer cannot exist without some hindrances.
Disobedience is a major hindrance to prayer. This is the main sin which broke up the fellowship between Adam and God. I stated earlier that sinning will stop you from praying, and praying will stop you from sinning.
“DISOBEDIENCE IS NOT JUST ANOTHER SIN, IT IS THE ONE SIN THAT REBELS AGAINST GOD.”
You know, I once viewed rebellion as a sin that was usually committed by unbelievers. Then I took a look at the word and discovered that one would have to know the law in order to rebel against it. Therefore I came up with this definition. Rebellion (rebellious person) – one who refuses to act on the information which they have received. When God speaks, He leaves no room for discussion. He expects us to act on what has been said. To do otherwise removes us from a state of dependence to independence. God will never be able to answer the prayers of the independent. He would be working against himself.
Immediately after Adam’s disobedience, he knew that he forfeited his right to approach God. He became afraid of the presence of God. Consequently, he felt it best to stay away from the meeting place. I’m sure you have felt similarly condemned when you have failed the Lord. Sinning will certainly keep you away from prayer and praying will keep you away from sinning. Before you jump the gun, sinning is not limited to smoking, drinking, adultery, stealing, lying, gambling, and dancing. Knowing what the word of God says, and refusing to act on it is also sin.
I John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” James 4:17 ‘`Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
I don’t hesitate to say that disobedience is the main cause for much truancy in the prayer closet. Truancy is such an appropriate word in this case that I must share the definition of one of it’s noun forms.
Truant – a pupil who stays away from school without permission; anyone who absents himself from work or duty without good reason. Please meditate on the last three words of the definition: “without good reason. ”
Not even tears will prompt God’s answering when we act in disobedience. Without question, the children of Israel were God’s chosen people. Yet, the Old Testament scriptures are filled with vivid portraits of the dire consequences of their disobedience. Consider Moses’ rebuke in Deuteronomy 1:42-45 “And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies. So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill. And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah. And ye returned and wept before the LORD, but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.” The bottom line in this account, failing to do God’s will God’s way will bring defeat.
B. SECRET SINS
Nothing kills the joy of prayer like secret sin! When I speak of secret sins, I do not mean God is unaware of them. Secret sins are the sin habits believers practice while they pretend, in word and deed, to be living above them. If prayer is to proceed out of a sincere believing heart, that heart must be kept free of known sins; Or else, it will lose its ability to act in obedience to and believe in God.
Sin in our hearts is like a clogged pipe or gas line. It prevents the flow of the spirit. Sin is like a killing frost on tropical fruit. You may visit in a tropical area and be fascinated by the trees, purchase one and bring it into a cold climate, but as soon as the cold weather comes it will die. So is it with prayer. When sinning moves in, it will lower your hearts temperature too low for prayer to live in it.
As believers, we must be quick to repent. In other words, when you know you are wrong, don’t seek to hide your wrong under excuses or other labels. Pray that God will make your heart tender toward Him. When our hearts are tender toward the Lord, sin will bother us. It will make a tender heart uncomfortable in the presence of the Lord causing it to repent. Just as sinning clogs up your spirit and prevents prayer from flowing, repentance opens your spirit so that prayer can return. This I believe is the main reason many of God’s upfront leaders have not seen the real need for prayer. We have been slow to repent.
When we don’t see God’s command to pray as a must, we sin and to recover from that sin or any other sin we must repent. This sin originates in private, but if allowed to go unchecked it will be exposed. Somehow we seem to have developed the attitude that some sins don’t require repentance. But if there are such sins it wouldn’t be prayer. Because praying is the only thing that will put a stop to sinning. I classify prayerlessness as the number one sin of the believer. It is the one sin, which opens the door for all other sins. And not to repent over this heinous sin will paralyze your relationship with the Lord.
Praying is a master of the heart, therefore we must not trust our own hearts aside from the word of God. In other words, it’s not how we feel, but what God said that counts. If we ignore God’s word, our hearts can have us feeling right even though we could be wrong. Remember the words of Jeremiah. 17:9; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
When we pray we need to submit our hearts unto the Lord above all else. We cannot afford to allow any foreign or secret sin to take up resident in us. And if we will allow the Lord to work in us he will reveal to us any problem that might arise.
Psalms 19:12,13 “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.”
One of the important elements of prayer is discovering in the presence of God, things that are against Him, and then submitting them to Him for cleansing.
“IF SIN IS CORRECTED IN PRIVATE, IT WILL NEVER BECOME PUBLIC.”
Note the progression or rather the digression sin brings to your life. First, it’s errors (seemingly harmless deviations) then its secret faults. These are pet sins; sins you just can’t seem to do without. But, you tell yourself that you can handle them and keep them under control. Once you become comfortable with your harmless sins, and you know how easy it is for pets to become just like family members, you open yourself up for the “biggie” sin of presumption. Can’t you feel the spirit of the sins of presumption:
“Yes, I’m doing it and don’t care who knows. I know the Lord will forgive me anytime I ask him.”
At this point, all tenderness toward God has evaporated and you are easy prey for the great transgression. Praying, however, will keep your heart tender toward God leaving you with an outright hatred for sin. Prayer is your built-in alarm system. It keeps your heart so sensitive. At the first inkling of wrong, it will go off. We only sin when we ignore the warning. Your tender heart bleeds at the thought of hurting your beloved savior and friend. You do not want anything to come between you and Him.
We are aware that because a thing is secret to others, it is common knowledge to Him. Let us repent, confess, obey and prosper in Him.
Proverbs 29:1 “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
C. AN UNFORGIVING SPIRIT
An unforgiving spirit is death to any prayer life!! Anytime we allow ill feelings, resentments, bitterness, and grudges to enter our hearts, we are promised in the word of God that the Lord will not hear us.
Psalms 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
Jesus speaks of forgiveness as a measurement by which we are judged to in turn receive forgiveness. In other words, we receive forgiveness in the same proportions as we grant forgiveness to those who trespass (transgress) against us.
Luke 637 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
Notice in the last sentence, Jesus said, “forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” Anyone who wants forgiveness. Must be willing to forgive. Now verse 38 is one of those scriptures we emphasis at offering time. But when you take it in its context, you will have to apply it to love, mercy, kindness, doing good, not judging, and forgiving, etc. If we give those practices required by Jesus, we will also receive the same from men.
Luke 6:38 “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.”
From now on, if you want others to be big on forgiving you, you must first sow it and God will grow it. Nothing puts us in trouble with God like failing to practice forgiveness, with one another.
Matthew 18:35 “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
Matthew 6:14,15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
This is a simple language, if we withhold forgiveness, we will not receive forgiveness. This will automatically put our prayers on hold because the Lord is more concerned about our relationship with each other than any gift we can offer.
Matthew 5:23-24 ‘`Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Nothing will drain away God’s blessing power and anointing from your life more rapidly than unkind thoughts of others. Bitterness, resentment, hostility, criticism, or bitterness of heart. Unforgiveness will constipate a child of God so that nothing spiritual will flow through him/her.
Jesus declares that if we forgive not from the heart, we will be dealt with severely by our heavenly father. In spite of the scripture warnings, many of us allow our spirits to become clogged by holding on to grudges, bitterness and resentment. The God who hears and answers prayer is the very one who told us to practice forgiveness toward one another.
Mark 11:25,26 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
An unforgiving spirit heads the list of things which prevent the Spirit of the Lord from bringing revival, true fellowship, and healing.
If unforgiveness remains, so will demonic invasion, bitterness, hostility, anger, murder, violence, fear, depression, critical attitudes, distrust, self-pity, and sickness. Someone might ask, “How do you know when you have forgiven?”
“Must you forget?”
When you have forgiven an individual, you will sense the release in your spirit. It is a good feeling to do what you know is right. Your mind will be free from the past hang-ups. You can now face your former opposition without a sense of guilt.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren and will not freely let you or me go without trying to make us feel a sense of guilt. But when you know that in your heart you have completely released all charges previously held against a person, you then act according to the decision you have made by dealing with the person as though nothing has ever happened.
Matthew. 18:21-35 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
After carefully and prayerfully studying the above scriptures, it should be quite clear that regardless to the offense of others we must forgive.
RULES FOR HANDLING HURT FEELINGS
1. Don’t curse it (the “why me” attitude)
2. Don’t nurse it (give it the care it seeks)
3. Don’t rehearse it (keep repeating what happened)
4. Don’t disperse it (passing it on to everyone you meet)
If you refrain from the above,
5. God will reverse it (“vengeance is mine said the Lord.”)
It was God’s love which caused Him to forgive us. In like manner, we should love each other enough to forgive. As freely as we have received, we should freely give.
D. HOME RELATIONSHIP
The game plan for the enemy is to destroy families and hinder prayers. He knows that weak families will climax into weak congregations. Satan has discovered that the home is an ideal place to execute his prayer destroying plan. The dearest things to one’s heart should be his companion and children. Yet we must guard against allowing our dealing with them to cripple our prayers. The adversary does not restrict himself as to what or who he uses to hinder our relationship with the Lord. In the home, Satan will take the advantage of some of the pettish things that one can conceive. He will take a molehill and exalt it like a mountain. Too much time in the washroom, too slow getting dressed, carrying out yesterday’s task today, forgetting to pick up the laundry, forgetting to get the coffee, or the bread, etc. can all become distractions. However, ignoring our families in the name of doing the work of the Lord can also be fatal.
It is difficult to pray over mess. The scriptures are clear on this issue. If you are in prayer and know that you have offended, go and get the offense straightened and then return and continue your prayer. It is interesting how we often see the need to be void of offense in our relationships with others and yet so blind to the hurts and feelings of our own companions and children. Therefore, let us keep our home life in line so that our church life will flow from heart to heart. You cannot be wrong at home, and right at church. Many services for the Lord have been fruitless because of what took place at home and brought to church unrepented. You and I cannot speak and act any kind of way to our household without it affecting our relationship with the Lord. Decree in your heart that you will not be the clog that prevents the spirit from flowing.
Again, it is impossible to be wrong at home, but right at church! Many attics are hearing noises and attributing them to pest, only to discover they are unanswered prayers.
I Peter 3:7 “For this cause, many prayers are hindered. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered ”
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM AND PUBLISHED BY PRAYER CLINIC II, 1990, PAGES 51-64. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.