You’ve been praying, hoping, believing for something for years. Maybe you’re beginning to wonder if your prayers are bouncing off heaven’s doors. Maybe you’re wondering if your prayers have reached God’s ears but the answer is ‘no’.
The waiting is long and maybe you’re prepared to give up.
Don’t. But check your heart. Is it aligned with God’s? Are your prayers being hindered?
Yes, there are times when our prayers can be hindered.
What Can Hinder Prayer?
- Asking for selfish gain.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James 4:3 NKJV
- Asking but not believing.
When the disciples saw it they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Jesus answered them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.”
Matthew 21:20-22 NET
- Living in sin.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.
Isaiah 59:1,2 NKJV
This isn’t a detailed study on the topic. There are more reasons your prayers can be hindered, such as division in marriage (see 1 Peter 3:7), unforgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15), and withholding your tithe (Malachi 3).
Trusting when it’s Quiet … No Matter What
As for if God’s answer is ‘no’, or possibly, ‘wait’ … I don’t have answers for that. But, the closer we are to Him and the more we align our hearts with God and His word, the more we can trust Him even when we aren’t seeing the fruit of our prayers. That even if the answer isn’t what we want, we can trust Him the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did in the fiery furnace. We’ll call that the “No Matter What” kind of faith. (If you’re not familiar with this story, you can read about it in the book of Daniel chapter 3.) God is moved by faith that says, “God, this is my prayer. But even if you don’t answer this prayer, I will serve you anyway. No matter what.” That kind of prayer comes from a heart aligned with His.
Because sometimes we don’t see the whole picture. Sometimes it’s the will of others that is stopping the miracle. We aren’t omniscient like He is. We don’t see all the angles (what an overwhelming thought!).
Speak Blessing, Choose Mercy
But in the midst of waiting, speak blessing. Over yourself, your season, others who seemingly have the exact thing you’ve been praying for …
With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?James 3:9-11 NKJV
If we are cursing our neighbours and in the same breath worshipping the Lord, then asking for a laundry list of things, what then? If we are asking for mercy for ourselves, but withholding it from others, we’ve got it wrong … don’t we?
This is a heavy topic, I know. A prayer I often pray is this, from Psalm 86 “Lord, unite my heart to fear Your name.” Also, “Align my desires for me and my life with Yours.”
Reach out to Jesus
This isn’t supposed to be a list of dos and don’ts in prayer. But rather, a challenge and word of encouragement. Grow closer to Jesus, dive into scripture, and ask Him to show you where your heart isn’t aligned yet with His. Ask Him to gently bring your heart into alignment.
God wants to hear all the things on your heart. Ephesians talks about praying constantly. God is with you all day long … imagine being with someone all day and not saying two words to them the whole time? Take time in your day to pray, to worship, but also in the midst of tasks, ask Him, “Lord, what do you think about this?” or “Lord, I’m struggling with this temptation. Strengthen me to stand strong.” or “I’m overwhelmed with work. Lord, please help to know what to do in this assignment.”
Whatever it is, however desperate it might be, reach out to Jesus.
How Jesus Prayed
When in doubt, pray as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane:
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”Matthew 26:39 NKJV
And, of course, there’s the Lord’s prayer:
So pray this way:Matthew 6:9-13 NET
Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,
may your kingdom come,
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
As your heart becomes more aligned with the Father’s, you just might find your prayers change too.
Further reading: Matthew 5:1-12, Matthew 6
Lord, trusting isn’t easy but I give my cares and burdens to you. Align my heart with yours. Help me to walk in Your will for my life. Please unite my heart to fear Your name and to trust You in the good times and bad, no matter what. Strengthen my faith. May my decisions and my life bring glory to You.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
A Moment of Worship
As I looked for a song to share with you today, I sensed the Lord wanted it to be Spirit Break Out from Kim Walker-Smith. Then I found this version, which starts with Spirit Lead Me (I had never heard this song before) which is sung by Michael Ketterer. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen/watch this. It fits this devotional so well.
Be so blessed, friends, as you seek the Lord, as you trust Him. Know Jesus and pour your heart out to Him.