1) Prayers are hindered by lack of love
All the virtue that is saving, and that distinguishes true Christians from others, is summed up in Christian love. When that love is missing or corrupted, then our prayers are hindered.
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38)
Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. (Proverbs 21:13)
Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends. (Proverbs 17:9 GWT)
2) Prayers are hindered by pride and selfishness
Pride and selfishness are the opposite of Christian love, so it’s obvious they hinder prayer.
When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason-for your own pleasure. (James 4:3)
3) Prayers are hindered by unbelief and doubt (the absence of faith)
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. When you ask for something, don’t have any doubts. A person who has doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea. A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything. (James 1:5-8)
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. (John 15:16)
4) Prayers are hindered by disobedience
Once we know the will of God on any subject, it is disobedience and rebellion to continue to pray for God’s will on that subject. This will hinder our prayers. We need to obey God and please him for our prayers to be answered.
What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire of the righteous will be granted. (Proverbs 10:24)
Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we can boldly look to God and receive from him anything we ask. We receive it because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21-22 GWT)
5) Prayers are hindered by family discord and strife
The marriage relationship was ordained by God in the first few chapters of the Bible. It was part of the first 6 days of creation. God made everything that was made and he looked at it and said, “it was good.” Then he looked at man and said, “it is not good that man should dwell alone,” so he made a helper fit for him. Man and woman were created by God in a special way to complement and finish each other. This relationship is used as a model of Jesus Christ and the church of his children. When this relationship is filled with ungodly discord and strife, everything suffers.
Husbands, in a similar way, live with your wives with understanding since they are weaker than you are. Honor your wives as those who share God’s life-giving kindness so that nothing will interfere [1465 Egkoptó] with your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7)
1465 egkóptō (from 1722 /en, “in” and 2875 /kóptō, “cut”) – properly, cut into (like blocking off a road); hinder (A-S) by “introducing an obstacle that stands sharply in the way of a moving object” (Souter); (figuratively) sharply impede, by cutting off what is desired or needed; to block (hinder).
6) Prayers are hindered by unforgiveness
The cornerstone of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ died for sins. Jesus Christ paid for sins. Jesus Christ forgives sins. If you do not understand forgiveness enough to forgive others, then your faith is so small that it is tantamount to unbelief. In that case, don’t expect any prayers to be answered except prayers of confession.
“This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, let your name be kept holy. Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us our daily bread today. Forgive us as we forgive others. Don’t allow us to be tempted. Instead, rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failures. (Matthew 6:12-15 GWT)
And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any: that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26)
7) Prayers are hindered by lack of reconciliation
I love the picture that is developed by combining Matthew 5 with Matthew 18. If two people have a disagreement where one has something against the other, they both meet each other to reconcile. The one, who was wronged, going to correct and restore the other. And the one, who has wronged, going to reconcile the other.
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (Matthew 5:23-24)
8) Prayers are hindered by unconfessed sins
The Apostle John spent most of his life encouraging saints to have a relationship with God. In 1 John 1, he reminds us that our relationship with each other depends on our relationship with God. These relationships depend on the kind of lives we’re living. If we’re living in unconfessed sin, we cannot be living in close intimate relationship with God.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalm 66:18 KJV)
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; (Psalm 66:18 NIV)
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18 NLT)
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. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
9) Prayers are hindered by religion and idolatry
The people of Israel in the time of Hosea weren’t living outrageous profligate wild party lives. They were deeply profoundly piously religious, yet God rebuked their works and turned his back on them. It was true for them and it will be true for us.
For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. (Hosea 5)
Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. (Ezekiel 14:1-5)
“I called, and you refused to listen. I stretched out my hands to you, and no one paid attention. You ignored all my advice. You did not want me to warn you. I will laugh at your calamity. I will make fun of you when panic strikes you, when panic strikes you like a violent storm, when calamity strikes you like a wind storm, when trouble and anguish come to you. “They will call to me at that time, but I will not answer. They will look for me, but they will not find me, (Proverbs 1:24-28 GWT)
10) Prayers are hindered when not in God’s will
One of the most important requirements of effectual fervent prayer is seeking God’s will. Even Jesus praying to his father, sought the will of the father over his own will. Our prayers will be hindered if we don’t do the same thing.
And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14)