We all know the usual hindrances to prayer: being busy, being preoccupied, etc. but there are some things that can keep us from prayer that we may not even know about!
I know I’ve definitely experienced times when I sensed something was blocking my prayers, but I couldn’t always put my finger on what was happening (or not happening).
After much thought, prayer, and asking the Holy Spirit to open my eyes, I’ve come to realize there are three hindrances to prayer that are actually quite common, and in fact, they are so common that we often don’t even recognize them!
Let’s dive in! The three hindrances are...
Sometimes we may not even be aware that our attitudes are actually keeping us from having effective prayer times. By the way, I’m defining “attitude” here as a temporary mood that blocks genuine fellowship, praise, blessings, etc.
Some days we have rough days, and we just aren’t in the mood to pray. We’re frustrated with a situation at work or at home, we’re tired, we’re feeling alone, or sometimes – this is a big one for me – we’re just too busy having our own little pity party to even think about anything spiritual. Yes, many times I’m so guilty of that last one!
Verses to check out: 1 Chronicles 28:8-10, Proverbs 21:2, James 4:6, Ezekiel 36:26
The Lord knows where our hearts, thoughts, and attitudes are focused when we pray, and if they’re not focused on Him, when we recognize that and confess it, He can purify our hearts and give us new desires.
What to do about it: Confess the moment you realize what’s going on and start to thank and praise God right away. This will redirect your thoughts from your situation back to God. As far as not “feeling” like praying, honestly, you’ve just got to do it. If you wait until you’re in the right mood to pray, you’ll never pray. The times that I don’t FEEL like praying are usually the times when I need to pray that much harder. (“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” - Philippians 2:5)
I’m defining “mindset” as long-standing strongholds, a lack of belief that God will do anything, a belief that you don’t deserve an answer/blessing, or demanding that the answer HAS to be the way you want it (and not necessarily what God has for you).
This one is more common than we realize, but it’s so very hard to recognize it when you’re captive to it. For example, many times we doubt that God wants to be good to us. We think, “Yes, God, You can do anything… but will You??? You’re good to everyone else, but will You be good to me???”
Verses to check out: Hebrews 2:1, Romans 8:5, 1 John 5:4
We have the Holy Spirit within us, which means we don’t have to live captive to these mindsets. We have the power and ability through Him to have an entirely new mindset.
What to do about it: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any mindsets/strongholds that have been hindering your prayers. Begin to replace the lies with truth.
“I can’t _________.” / “I can do all things through Christ…” (Phil. 4:13)
“God can’t ________.” / “God can do anything…” (Eph. 3:20)
“I need ________.” / “God will supply all of my needs…” (Phil. 4:19)
3. The Prayer Itself
For this one, I mean asking in selfishness, asking with a lack of faith, or repeating the same prayer when God’s already answered or said, “Move on”.
We can be stubborn pray-ers, can’t we? I know I can! We want what WE want and we want it exactly when WE want it. It can be so hard to let go of something you’ve been holding onto and praying over when God says, “Let go…” Yet, by continuing to pray over something that He’s asked us to release, we are hindering any growth, any forward movement, and definitely any blessing He may have in store for us.
Verses to check out: Exodus 14:15, 1 John 5:14-15, 2 Peter 1:1-9, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Romans 8:37
By holding on to things, we aren’t allowing Him the opportunity to really work or to replace what we’re clinging to with something even better!
What to do about it: Examine your motive for praying. Are you praying so you can experience God and build your relationship with Him or are you praying just to get things from God? (Ask the Holy Spirit for help if you don’t know. He will reveal it!)
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