Read Isaiah 59:1-12
This was a reproof to Israel that can be applied to us. However, they blamed God for their sin; it wasn’t his fault. I’ll remind us that God has not changed. Hebrews says that he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Sin offends God. He cannot and will not tolerate sin as if it does not matter. He did not excuse the sin of David, a man after God’s own heart. God sent Nathan with a message and told him he was the man who sinned. David repented and God forgave him. Sins form a wall that isolates you from God; it’s a barrier. Verses 3-12 of this chapter gives a long list of sins the people were doing; people are doing the same today. As long as a person has money in the bank, he/she can withdraw money, but if you don’t have the money deposited, you cannot take it out. When you turn on the faucet you expect water to come out. When you flip a light switch you expect the lights to come on. When these things don’t happen you try to find out what’s wrong and fix it.
In a normal Christian life prayers will be answered on a regular basis. God has answered every prayer I’ve ever prayed. It’s not always been yes. It’s not always been how I thought. Sometimes yes; sometimes no. Sometimes it’s to wait a little while. So what hinders prayer.
(1) Secret, unconfessed sin hinders prayer from being answered. If something is not coming through, check to see if there is something unconfessed. In Isaiah 59 the people were praying and not getting an answer. They thought something happened to God. The problem was unconfessed sin. Verses 1-2 say 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. David asked the Lord to search him, to examine his heart. We’re all for God searching the hearts of others but not so much our own heart. We do things daily we should not do. These will block the prayer line. Keep the line open. F. B. Myers was a great man of God but early on he felt his ministry was going nowhere. He prayed and found that in his heart were things he had kept from God. When he surrendered the last key to the compartments of his heart, his ministry was never the same again. Ask the Lord to search you. Acan stole the treasures after the battle; these were dedicated to God. God withdrew his blessings from Israel until Acan confessed the sin and told where he hid them. God knows the sin in our hearts; we cannot hide it.
(2) Wrong relationships between husbands and wives hinder prayer. First Peter 3:1-7 gives us this direction to both husband and wife. Read this looking closely at the last phrase. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives. While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Both of them are told their actions can hinder. Do not ignore the direction. You will disagree but it cannot be ignored. Discord in the home grieves God and must be dealt with.
(3) Wrongs un-righted; debts not paid; offended brothers not reunited. Matthew 5:23-24 says Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. The emphasis is on the offended person going to the offender. Then its on his shoulders what he does with it. Failure to pay a debt is a sure way to ruin a friendship and it hinders prayer. Be man enough to admit you can’t pay and why. If not, it will ruin your name as a Christian.
(4) Failure to forgive hinders prayer. In Matthew 18 a man owed a large debt but was forgiven of it. Yet he turned right around to a brother who owed him a little debt and when he couldn’t pay, he had him thrown in jail. God has forgiven us a sin bigger than we can imagine. Why can’t we forgive others? God forgave us, yet we hold grudges. Peter asked the Lord how many time we are to forgive saying seven times. The Lord said 70 times 70. No, we don’t keep a tally. Jesus was saying forgive no matter how many times. Remember how many times God has forgiven you. I’ve heard this so much it makes me sick. “Preacher, you don’t know what they did to me.” No, I don’t but I do know what you did to God. Forgive means to dismiss or send away. Our sins are deep in the sea and as far as the east is from the west. The only one who can forgive is the one offended. A righteous, holy God forgave us; we should forgive. Joseph is the best example of human forgiveness. Sold as a slave by his brothers he ends up second in command in the Egyptian Empire. Many years later his brothers had to come to Egypt for food. They didn’t know who Joseph was but when he revealed himself to them they were afraid because of what they had done to him. He didn’t hold it against them. Most of us would have held that grudge. Joseph forgave it a long time ago and lived a life of peace.
(5) Indifference in reading the Bible hinders prayer. The person who pays no attention to the Bible is in trouble. Do you love the Word of God? I do. Psalms 1:1-3 says Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Love the Word.
(6) Selfishness hinders prayer. James 4:3 says Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Sometimes a steam locomotive loses its power, blowing only its whistle. We need power to win others to Christ and glorify God. Don’t just toot your own horn.
(7) Disobedience hinders prayer. In I Samuel 15 we find the story of Saul’s disobedience. He was told to destroy Amalek; while he did destroy most everything he kept the king alive and brought the choice of the spoil back. He told the prophet Samuel he had obeyed and was asked what then was the bleating of the sheep. He immediately blamed others. Samuel told him Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. God wants our obedience more than anything.So…are your prayers being hindered? There is a remedy for it. First John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Prayers won’t be answered if you don’t.