August 12, 2010 • By Ed Wrather
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” - Luke 11:1 NKJV.
Firefighters in Belfair, Washington are making sure they carry a new tool with them when they answer a fire call. That tool is the boltcutter, which is now necessary, because the Belfair Water District has placed padlocks on all the fire hydrants to try to reduce the theft of water. Even the fire hydrant in front of the fire station has a padlock on it! The Belfair Water District, however, is concerned about the loss of water, which means loss of money and wants the Fire Department to pay for part of the lost revenue. Belfair Fire Chief Beau Bakken says, “And we're going to come across these and have an issue with one of these hydrant locks, and have a terrible disastrous event on our hands.”
We are given a wonderful promise in 1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” However, sometimes it may seem as though the answers to our prayers are locked up. We pray and we pray, but in our hearts we know that there is something wrong, which is preventing God from giving us what we are praying for.
There are several possible explanations for God being unwilling to immediately answer our prayers. It may be that God is simply saying “No” or He may be saying “Wait”. Let us look at some of the hindrances to prayer that lock up the answers that we seek. 1 John 5:14-15 immediately gives us a reason some prayers are not answered in the way that we want. If we are asking for something that is not God's will, the answer will always be “No”. The apostle Peter gives us another reason prayers may be hindered in 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” If you are not treating your wife with honor, treasuring her, loving her, and protecting her, you will find your prayers are going nowhere. If you are angry with your wife, you have an ongoing conflict with her about anything; again your prayers will be ineffective.
There are other things that can lock up your prayer life. A lack of faith according to Hebrews 11:6 can result in the answers to your prayers being locked up. The writer of Hebrews says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is….” How do you have more faith? Romans 1:17 says, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you have unconfessed sin in your life the answers to your prayers will be locked up (1 Peter 3:12). The apostle James indicates that if the motive behind the request is wrong you will not receive what you have requested (James 4:3). To have your prayer life unlocked you need to be seeking what God wants, obeying His commands (1 John 3:22).
Most of the locks on effective prayer have obvious keys, but some are not so obvious. When you are unsure of what is hindering your prayers, the best thing to do is to ask God what is wrong. A closer relationship with your Lord will always improve your prayer life and will help you to avoid many of the problems that hinder prayers. As Jesus says in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”