Eight enemies of prayer
God’s desire and purpose is to hear and answer all sincere prayers of all people. Jesus said “And I know that You always hear Me” (John 11:42). However, there are obstacles, problems and enemies that infiltrate and undermine the prayer life of those who pray and to God and these things hinder the manifestation of God’s power. Let’s examine some of these.
1. Wrong family relationships (1 Peter 3:1-7)
Failure to fulfill conjugal duties between couples hinders prayers from reaching heaven. Christian couples must entrust their marriage relationship to God. If God is not answering their prayers, there may be flaws in the conjugal relationship. Peter specifically warned husbands to be understanding of their wives honoring them as the more fragile vessels. This implies the tendency of husbands to deal with their wives as if they were other men. Men tend to be confrontational and not as sensitive as women and for a man to treat a woman roughly is dishonorable. This type of rough treatment by husbands disrupts family harmony and must at all costs, be resolved. One way that God resolves this problem is that he refuses to hear and answer the prayers of an insensitive and obstinate husband with respect to his wife. This implies that an entire family can suffer because of the improper attitude of the husband, all because he failed to properly honor his wife.
2. Lack of forgiveness (Mark 11:25)
God hears our prayers based on the forgiveness of our sins; but God cannot deal with us on this basis of forgiveness if we hold grudges against others and cultivate a spirit of animosity or revenge against those who have offended us. God closes His ears to the prayers of anyone who cultivates a bitter spirit against another person. Similarly to the first enemy, lack of forgiveness in Christian’s lives hinders God from freely blessing his people. To God, relationships always come first and no one can skip relationship and expect to receive God’s blessings.
3. Wrong motivation (James 4:3)
To ask God for things that we really do not need merely to satisfy our selfish desires and motivations presents a serious obstacle to answered prayer. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 the Apostle Paul taught, “Whether we eat or drink, whatever we do, we must do all things for the glory of God.” We cannot ask for things in prayer, even if they are in line with the will of God, if we have the wrong motive. He will not answer us. The primary and foundational purpose of prayer is to connect us to God’s resources to be used to fulfill his purposes in order to attain his glory.
4. All forms of disobedience to God (Isaiah 59:1, 2)
An attitude of rebelliousness or disobedience to the Word of God closes the heavens to us. Any un-confessed sin becomes the enemy of prayer. A life of obedience to the Word of God opens the way for God’s answer. Unlike the previous enemy of prayer which may involve the right things but the motivation is wrong this enemy may involve correct motivation but the actions are wrong. If we do things in disobedience to God’s Word even with a proper motivation our prayers will be hindered.
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:22)
5. Idols in the heart (Ezekiel 14:3)
An idol is any and every person or thing that takes the place of God in someone’s life. It is anything that becomes the supreme object of one’s affection. An idol is that which occupies our thinking. God must be supreme in our lives. This enemy of prayer may involve correct motivations and even correct behavior however the priorities are mistaken. Prayer flows when our motivation is correct, our actions are in harmony with God’s Word and our priorities are adjusted in such a manner that God comes in first place.
6. Lack of generosity to the poor (Proverbs 21:13)
The attitude that leads us to refuse to help those who are in need when we can do something to help them hinders God from answering our prayers. God wants us to come to him with the attitude of expectancy and hope but he also wants us to be consistent in this spirit and freely receive those who come to us with the same attitudes of expectancy and hope. Jesus told his disciples: “Freely you have received, freely give!” One of God’s purposes in answering our prayers is so that we can be a channel of blessing to others. If we cut off the flow of blessings to others, we must recognize that I wouldn’t be proper to expect God to continue sending his blessing into our lives. The principle in operation here is God’s desire that we be a blessing and an extension of his blessing!
7. Doubt and unbelief (James 1:5-7)
Doubt is the thief of God’s blessings. Doubt comes from ignorance of the Word of God. When you know that God answers prayer, yet you do not apply His Word to your experience, then you have permitted doubt in your life and have become an unbeliever. To disbelieve God’s promises is to doubt his character and is the same as calling Him a liar. If we expect to receive answers to prayer we must understand that God demands our trust in his good will and ability to bless us.
8. Dependence on the faith of others
God has given a measure of faith to each believer. Faith comes to us when we become a new creature in Christ and receive God’s nature. Just as we develop our physical and mental capabilities through exercise, we develop our faith by aligning ourselves with the Word of God (John 15:7). God wants each of his children to have the experience of seeing their needs met directly from his hand. We are a kingdom of priests and not a people in need of a priest. As priests we must have the ability to receive directly from God to meet not only our own needs but also the needs of others.