Hindrances to Prayer

by Evangelist John R. Rice (1895 - 1980)

Table of Contents

"... that your prayers be not hindered." 1st Peter 3:7.

"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." Isaiah 59:1,2.

"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." 1st Peter 3:12.

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 66:18.


Daily, Regular Answer to Prayers Should Be Normal for All Christians

The normal Christian life is a life of regular, daily answer to prayer. In the model prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray daily for bread, and expect to get it, and to ask daily for forgiveness, for deliverance from the evil one, and for other needs, and daily to get the answers they sought.

That is the way Jesus Himself lived, in daily unhindered communion with the Father, so that He could say to His Father and our Father, "I knew that thou hearest me always" (John 11:42). And all the teaching of the Lord Jesus about prayer shows that we too have a normal, day-by-day unhindered intercourse with God, asking and receiving, seeking and finding, knocking and having God open to us. He plainly said, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). When we are told in James 4:2 that "ye have not, because ye ask not," it is proper to infer that God intended asking to be followed by having and that the Christian in the will of God can live day by day in the fullness of joy of having his prayers answered.

It is perfectly normal for an obedient child to ask for food every meal time and get it, get all he wants, and eat until he is perfectly satisfied. And using that figure the Saviour said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt. 7:11).

A depositor whose account is in good condition normally has every check he draws honored by the bank. Then why cannot a child of God day by day draw on the bank of Heaven have his prayers answered as a matter of course, as a daily business? He can! When a Christian fails to have his prayer-check cashed, he should regard it as proof that something is wrong that needs attention at once.

When I turn faucets in bathroom or kitchen, I expect water to pour forth every time. If I turned the tap and water did not come, I would be surprised. Also I would know that something radically was wrong and I would immediately set out to find out why the water did not run. If I press a light switch and the light does not shine, or if I plug in an electric motor and there is no power, I know that something is wrong, dead wrong, that the connection with the powerhouse is broken; and I set out to find what is wrong and to remedy it. Just so, every Christian ought to be in daily communion with God and ought to live the joyful life of answered prayer. And when anything hinders his prayers the Christian ought immediately to be able to find out what is wrong and get it remedied.

Now the Scriptures above, at the head of this chapter, indicate that there are sins which hinder the prayers of Christians, sins that turn God's face away so that He will not hear, yea, sins which make it so that God cannot, in righteousness, heed the cry of His own child, whom He loves! We are not left in the dark about these sins. God, in His wonderful love, has shown us in the Bible the things that grieve Him, the things that make it so He cannot answer fully our prayers.

Often we pray for daily bread or for other daily necessities, such as money for rent, or for a job, or furniture or clothes, things for which God tells us to pray; and yet no answer comes. Christians often pray for the conversion of loved ones, pray for revivals, pray for help in temptation; all matters about which every Christian certainly has a right to pray, matters about which God has declared in His Word that He is concerned, and which He is anxious to give us; and yet Christians often do not get the answer to their prayers. Why? The answer is that many a good prayers cannot be answered by a holy God because of sins in the life and heart of the one who prays.

It may be that you have some of your prayers answered, or think you do. The dear Lord Who "sendeth rain on the just and the unjust" (Matt. 5:45), and is "kind unto the unthankful" (Luke 6:35), may give you many things that do not come because He respects your prayers and answers them, but because of His infinite mercy which is poured out even upon the vilest sinners. The God Who still gives breath to the murderer, still gives food to the man who never prays, the God Who gives all the bounties of nature to a sinning, Christ-rejecting race - that God still loves and cares for His children even when they live in sin and grieve His heart. So perhaps what God has been doing for you when you prayed was not at all the answer to your prayers but just such mercies as His infinite Love and goodness provide for the most wicked of His creatures.

But whether God hears some of your prayers, or none of them, your prayers are hindered if you do not day by day live in the fullness of answered prayer so that you can sing, "Nothing between my soul and the Saviour, So that His blessed face may be seen; Nothing preventing the least of His favor, Keep the way clear - let nothing between."

Often we are painfully conscious that our prayers are not heard. Last night a man said to me as we parted at the close of the service in a great rescue mission, "Preacher, before you sleep I wish you would pray for me. My prayers never get higher than my head. God won't hear me." Is that your case? Do you feel, even as you call on God, that He is not pleased, that He will not hear, that there is no likelihood of your receiving the thing for which you ask? Then, oh, how important it is to clear the line between you and God so He will hear you. How important it is to confess and forsake everything that grieves the dear Holy Spirit and shuts up Heaven to your prayers and stops God's ears!

Let us now prayerfully examine the Word of God and search our hearts to see why our prayers are hindered, and why God does not answer to give us what we ask.

-Dr. John R. Rice

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