Pulpit Reflections: Why aren’t my prayers being answered?

When you talk to the average person about their prayer life, most people say they pray regularly.  Many of these same people are not sure if God really exists or that their prayers are doing them any good.  Prayer has become synonymous with good feelings, wishes, and good will.

I�ve also talked with many people who feel like God has abandoned them.  A reason they state for their feeling this way is that God is not answering their prayers.  Why could an all loving God ignore or deny my prayers?  Let me share with you a few lessons I�ve learned about prayer from my own life and from God's word. 

I love being a parent, but at times my kids will challenge me when I give them a task to do.  They say �no� I want to do it my way.  In the end, because I have more experience and understanding, my kids usually realize why my way was best.  When it comes to prayer we humans try to make it whatever we want without looking to God for his prescribed means of prayer and hindrances to our prayer.

John 1:12 says �But to all who did accept him and believe in him he gave the right to become children of God.�  For those people who have entered into a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ it says that you become a child of God. When you become a child of God, you receive the forgiveness of sin, as it is washed away in the precious blood of Jesus; you also have the promises of God available to you.  2 Corinthians 1:19b, 20 says �In Christ it has always been yes.  The yes to all of God's promises is in Christ, and through Christ we say yes to the glory of God.� 

Notice that the blessed promises of the Bible are only to those who are his children or are in Christ.  If you are praying in any other name, or outside of a personal relationship with Christ, you will not receive answers to your prayers because God works only through the channel he set up.  The channel is explained in John 10:9 where Jesus says �I am the door, and the person who enters through me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture.�

Even to the person who is in Jesus Christ, there are still hindrances to your prayers. 

A prideful attitude can hinder the prayers of a believer.  In Luke 18:10-14 a Pharisee prayed an eloquent  prayer that was long and praising himself.  The tax collector prayed from an attitude of humility and brokenness recognizing his sin.  He went home right with God.  We must come to him in humility recognizing him as all powerful and not exalting ourselves.

Unforgiveness and sin also hinder our prayers according to Mark 11:25, 26.  If we are not willing to forgive other people of their wrongs,  this passage says our Lord will not forgive us.  These sins put a wedge in our relationship with God and hinder our prayers. 

In 1 Peter 1:7 it teaches us that husbands ought to treat their wives in an understanding way and with respect.  It says that  mistreatment of a spouse will hinder your prayers from being answered.  I believe this can also apply to mistreatment of anyone in your authority whether it be kids, servants, or employees, etc.

In James 4:2, 3 James explains that people were asking God for things from their own selfish ambitions to spend it on themselves.  Wrong motives are a hindrance to prayer.  If you want your motives to be pure, you need to submit yourself to God to learn what he wants you to pray.  John 15:7 says �If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you.� 

Abiding is a place of continual communion with Jesus.  It's a place of more power, more joy, and more answers.  People who have found this place of abiding have this amazing promise that they can ask whatever they want and it will be given to them because their desires, hopes, and dreams become one with God's will.  I have found this blessed place of abiding with the Lord to be a place of intimacy with the Father and a place of power in our prayers.  So remove the hindrances and start praying today.

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