Avoiding Obstacles to Effective Prayer

  • July 23, 2015
Thursday 23

James 1:5-8

Some of King David’s prayers are recorded in the Psalms. There we read how he praised the Lord, confessed sin, and cried out about his troubles. He also asked God to hear his prayers and not be silent.

We all want to pray effectively like David. To do so, we must avoid certain hindrances, such as:

Wavering faith. Doubts about God’s character or dependability diminish our trust in Him. Therefore, we must not allow feelings to dictate what we believe.

Wrong motives (James 4:3). Petitions motivated by selfish desires won’t receive an affirmative answer. God wants us to pray for His will to be done—not ours.

Conflict in relationships. Being resentful or argumentative with others will affect communication with the Father.

Lack of generosity (Proverbs 21:13). God is displeased when we ignore people’s needs or give begrudgingly to the church. He hears us asking for a blessing yet sees us refusing to obey Him in our giving (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Indifference (Proverbs 28:9). Apathy to the Scriptures is another stumbling block. God has given us the Bible so that we might know Him and serve Him wholeheartedly. Failure to read and apply His Word consistently will diminish our ability to maintain a godly lifestyle.

It takes effort and commitment to develop a strong prayer life, but the rewards are great. If your prayers have not been answered, consider which, if any, of the above issues may need correction. Then, start by personalizing the prayers you read in the Psalms or elsewhere in God’s Word.

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5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

13 He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.

17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

1 For seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying, We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach!"

2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.

3 It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy--everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem.

4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning,

5 then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.

6 There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.

1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.

2 He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard.

4 What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?

5 So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.

6 I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it."

7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

8 Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, Until there is no more room, So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!

9 In my ears the LORD of hosts has sworn, Surely, many houses shall become desolate, Even great and fine ones, without occupants.

10 For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine, And a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain."

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!

12 Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD, Nor do they consider the work of His hands.

13 Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; And their honorable men are famished, And their multitude is parched with thirst.

14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; And Jerusalem's splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it.

15 So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased, The eyes of the proud also will be abased.

16 But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.

17 Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture, And strangers will eat in the waste places of the wealthy.

18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, And sin as if with cart ropes;

19 Who say, Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that we may know it! "

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!

22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink,

23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!

24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble And dry grass collapses into the flame, So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25 On this account the anger of the LORD has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. For all this His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out.

26 He will also lift up a standard to the distant nation, And will whistle for it from the ends of the earth; And behold, it will come with speed swiftly.

27 No one in it is weary or stumbles, None slumbers or sleeps; Nor is the belt at its waist undone, Nor its sandal strap broken.

28 Its arrows are sharp and all its bows are bent; The hoofs of its horses seem like flint and its chariot wheels like a whirlwind.

29 Its roaring is like a lioness, and it roars like young lions; It growls as it seizes the prey And carries it off with no one to deliver it.

30 And it will growl over it in that day like the roaring of the sea. If one looks to the land, behold, there is darkness and distress; Even the light is darkened by its clouds.

1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.

2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

3 And one called out to another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory."

4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.

5 Then I said, Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.

7 He touched my mouth with it and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, Here am I. Send me!"

9 He said, Go, and tell this people: `Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.'

10 Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed."

11 Then I said, Lord, how long?" And He answered, Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

12 The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.

13 Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump."

1 Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it.

2 When it was reported to the house of David, saying, The Arameans have camped in Ephraim," his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.

3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller's field,

4 and say to him, `Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah.

5 Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying,

6 Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,"

7 thus says the Lord GOD: It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass.

8 For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people),

9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not last."'"

10 Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,

11 Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven."

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!"

13 Then he said, Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?

14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

15 He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.

16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

17 The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria."

18 In that day the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

19 They will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places.

20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates ( that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.

21 Now in that day a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep;

22 and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey.

23 And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns.

24 People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns.

25 As for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns; but they will become a place for pasturing oxen and for sheep to trample.

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