By Ashley Thaba
ON Sunday, I listened to an inspiring sermon on prayer. The pastor listed loads of scriptures, which I have spent the past couple of days reading and meditating on.
I will share some of what God has been teaching me as I have looked over those scriptures. I challenge you to read over them and see what God reveals to you.
He was focusing on issues which keep our prayers from being productive. I believe that in these COVID-19 times, many people have begun to pray. Prayer is usually something that comes naturally for the people who feel they have no control over their lives. Whether it is job security, personal health, family dynamics, I have noticed more and more people are saying they are praying. Therefore, I thought you might appreciate his points on reasons he believes, backed up with scriptures, why some prayers are not effective.
Reason 1: James 4:1-10 We ask with wrong motives. We are asking to receive things so that we may spend what we get on our pleasures. James states that friendship with the world is enmity against God. The verses go on to encourage us to check our motives and purify our hearts. It lastly states that we should humble ourselves before God and He will lift us up.
Reason 2: Psalms 66:18, Isaiah 59:1-2 We have an unconfessed sin. Psalms 66 says: “We harbour sin in our hearts”. When I think of that word, harbour, I think of harbouring a criminal — choosing to provide a home for a criminal, even if it means to hide away from the authorities and do it in secret. It gives the impression that many of us know what we are doing is wrong, but we continually welcome that sin into the home of our minds and the actions of our days. We hide it in secret because we know it is wrong. Then we try and pray and think that God isn’t concerned with the darkness in our life. Light doesn’t mix with darkness. That is like going into a “no trespass” area and then calling the police to save you when you feel in danger. They are going to say: “we can’t help you when you are not where you are supposed to be!”
Reason 3: Ezekiel 14:3 Occult involvement — God asks in these verses: “How can someone consult idols and participate in witchcraft and then expect me to listen?” Choose who you want — God or witchcraft. God is powerful enough to work alone. He doesn’t need any help and He won’t share His glory. When you are ready to depend on Him for answers, He will be there. I think of a soccer player who, when it suits him, sides with one and when it suits him the other — at some point, people will say pick a team. Commit to the advice of one coach and play for that team.
Reason 4: Proverbs 21:13, 1 Timothy 6:10 Stingy and love of money — In Proverbs, God chastises the one who calls to Him for help when that same person ignores the cries of the poor, orphans, and widows who desperately need their help. How can we expect God to help us when we aren’t willing to help others?
Reason 5: John 16:9, James 1:6-8 Unbelief and doubt — If you ask God for help, you have to believe He can actually help. Faith is a key to unlock the door to unanswered prayers.
Reason 6: Matthew 6:14-15 Bitterness and unforgiveness — God declares you can’t expect Him to forgive you and purify you when you are holding onto bitterness and not forgiving others. Forgive and you shall be forgiven.
Reason 7: 1 Peter 3:7 Wrong attitude towards your wife. You should really go read this one. When you aren’t considerate of your wife, it will hinder your prayers. Let me not say more on this point. Just read it.
Reason 8: Matthew 7:1, Romans 14:10 a critical spirit. We judge others and then ask God to go easy on us.
Reason 9: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Ungratefulness. The Bible is clear that we are to pray with gratefulness yet so often our only focus is on what we do not have and not what we do have.
Reason 10: 1 John 5:14 Not praying accordance to God’s will. We have confidence when we pray in the will of God, He hears us.
I hope this list will encourage you and help your prayer life be examined and refined to be more fruitful and rewarding.