What are some of the causes of unanswered prayer and why God's people fail to enter into the fullness of the blessings they seek?
1. Selfishness and earthly desire hinder prayer. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your own pleasures (James 4:3).
God cannot give all the things that our carnal nature desires any more than we would give our child the shiny knife he or she sees on the kitchen counter. Some of the things we ask for from God can often be more dangerous to us than the sharp edge of the knife would be to the child. And besides the danger they represent, we simply want things to satisfy our cravings.
2. Strife and bitterness are a hindrance to prayer. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:25)
Is this hindering your prayers? Can you think of a person from whom you are estranged - a person whom you treat with harshness, neglect, disdain, injury or injustice? Is there some word you have spoken against someone that you should not have spoken, even if true? Have you heard some words against your brother that you should not have listened? May God help you to discover and deal with any such cause of unanswered prayer.!
3. Ignoring God's will hinders prayer. It is not necessary for actual sin to be present in our lives to hinder prayer; it may simply be plain disobedience to the Spirit's voice in some definite leading to service or testimony. People may not receive the full answers to their prayers until they obey the voice of God in some particular area where God is dealing with them.
4. Ignorance of the Holy Spirit is a great hindrance.
For many Christians, prayer is little more than a cry for help in a time of despair or pain. And even though God hears the faithless cry of human misery, that is not real prayer. The voice that reaches the Father's ear is that of His trusting child who prays with the breath and power of the Holy Spirit Himself. Unfortunately, most people know Him so little and walk so far from Him that they are comparative strangers to the language of heavenly communion.
Application: If you have surrendered your life to God, then you possess the Holy Spirit in your heart, consequently you have direct access to the throne of God. At any time, day or night, you can open and maintain direct communications with heaven itself, bringing all its help, if need be, to your immediate aid! Surely it is worth your while to yield yourself to a consecrated life and allow your loving Lord to make your heart His temple and His throne. Then prayer will always be the familiar and unbroken line of a happy child with the Father who is always at hand!
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)