There are various factors that could hinder our prayers from being answered, the most obvious one is not praying in the authority of Jesus Christ, praying without trusting in Him or by his name. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). It can be disheartening and even frustrating when we pray to God but don’t see a shift in our circumstances as we had hoped. One could ask “God do you even hear me when I call?” and the answer is yes but as mature Christians we need to understand that whilst we pray, we must seek the will of God to be done and not every wish to be granted. This article will highlight a few reasons a prayer is not answered or is delayed.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORDIsaiah 55:8
Praying according to God’s will
God’s will is found in His Word, the scriptures, which provides us with sufficient knowledge on how to live a life that is pleasing to Him. We are His creation made by Him and for Him, our life is not our own but was bought at a price. When we pray, we ask God to conform our will to His own because if we pray against His will, out of own personal desires we risk being out of alignment with His plan and purpose for us (1 John 5:14, Rom 12:1-2 and Proverbs 19:21).
Make prayer a personal encounter and not a parade
When we pray let us retreat to a quiet and private place to speak but also to hear from Him. This could literally be anywhere from your bedroom to your closet or your car/bike ride. As long as it is a place without distraction or disruption so you can have that intimate moment with the Father. It is not a sin to pray in public, as sometimes you may feel led to pray for a fellow pedestrian or a homeless person, however, we must avoid parading prayer and making it a show versus a holy moment (Matthew 6:5-8). The Pharisees had a tendency of praying in a proud and self-righteous manner, which we are warned against.
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Ask “Am I praying from a sinful or pure heart”?
This point may make you squirm a little, but we must examine our hearts when we pray because God does! Is there any unaddressed sin that you are committing that you know is displeasing to God? We cannot have our cake and eat it too. It’s not the end of the world but in this situation, we must repent and turn away from that sin, our God is gracious and rich in mercy (Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 66:18-19).
Ensure your heart is free of bitterness/unforgiveness
When we pray as challenging as it may be, we must try to ensure we are not carrying bitterness or offence in our hearts towards anyone. This I know can be easier said than done but unforgiveness can be a stumbling block in our prayer life. If it is an area you are struggling with, take the burden to God because He is compassionate and faithful, He will give you the strength to overcome and forgive (Mark 11:25-26).
Make prayer a priority and not a last response
This point may sound obvious but still needs to be said, make prayer a daily practice and not a last response. The word says we do not have because we ask not. Take your needs and desires to God because He cares about you. Do not look to the world or other people, go to your heavenly Father and Creator who knows you better than anyone! (James 4:2).
Husbands to honour wives to avoid hindered prayers
I will start off by saying this is not an attack on men! There is a biblical duty for husbands to honour and be considerate of their wives. A great responsibility is placed on husbands as the head of the home because after all they are called to love their wives like Christ loves the church. A very high calling. So, when there is disrespect or dishonour in a marriage, this can hinder prayers from being answered (1 Peter 3:7).
Check the motives behind your prayers
Similar to the point above about examining your heart and praying according to God’s will. When you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in prayer. To place a word or a person on your heart. To strip away any ungodly motives which could skew your outlook or feed sin in your life (James 4:3). Have you ever asked yourself “how earnest was my prayer?” When you pray for that job, or car or spouse- do you intend to include God in those plans? Or is it just for personal gratification? An example of earnest prayer in the Bible is that of Hannah as she prayed for a son (1 Samuel 1) and God, examining her motives responded to her prayer.
Pray with faith
This point is last but certainly not least. When you pray, pray with FAITH! That you are praying to a BIG and ABLE God who listens and responds to prayer. Be bold and confident with your prayer but also be humble because God is the one who can fulfil your desires. Some things we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2). When He says yes, no one can close that door and when He says no, no one can open that door. And if doubt creeps in, ask God to increase your faith even more to overcome it! (James 1:6-8). Make prayer a priority and not a last response. Do not look to the world or other people, go to your heavenly Father and Creator who knows you and your needs better than anyone!