If you are a parent, you know how much a parent delights to give good gifts to their children. It’s such a joy to take a sweet, obedient child out for a treat when they have exemplified respectful, kind behavior in their interactions with you and their siblings. You also know how annoying it is when your children have been disobedient and quarrelsome with each other all day, and then whine and beg you to stop and get ice cream on the way back from the grocery store.
Scripture uses the analogy of God being our Father, loving us, adopting us, and giving good gifts to us. All of us like to have our prayers answered, but often, I fear, we treat God as a doting father to be manipulated, instead of a righteous God to be respected, honored, and obeyed. We disobey Him, we quarrel with our spouse, we get angry with our kids, and then we whine and beg for Him to treat us to what we desire. Not a pretty picture, is it?
Is there a magic non-manipulative formula to having God hear our requests and grant our petitions? Well, yes and no. It’s not magic; it’s God’s plan. It’s not manipulation; it’s His promised blessing to us as His children. God is more than happy to hear and answer our prayers, because He is perfectly good; but He is even happier to hear and answer when we are sweetly loving Him and obeying His commands.
How to Have Unhindered Prayers
Avoid Personal Sin
Psalm 66:18 says
“If I regard (guard) iniquity (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
Unconfessed sin will hinder my prayers. Sin breaks fellowship with the Father. Sin does not remove our position as son or daughter, but it does create problems in the relationship that must be remedied if we expect our requests to be heard. Our Father God desires that there be no barriers between us. We must keep an honest heart and clean slate if we will see our prayers answered.
Avoid Vain Repetitious Prayers
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8
When we repeat something so often that it becomes a recitation, or when the ritual becomes more important than the words we speak, this is a vain repetition. Repetition is fine. In fact, there are things (like the salvation of a spouse or loved one) that we should continually be asking the Lord for. However, like a child who begs and begs and begs for something, wanting the parent to give in to them more than they really desire the object, our Heavenly Father is less inclined to answer when we repeat empty petitions.
Avoid Domestic Strife
Husbands and wives who are constantly fussing and quarreling and/or harboring unforgiveness toward their spouse or others will find their prayer life hindered.
Just as servants were told to obey their authorities in 1 Peter chapter 2, so in chapter 3, the wives are told they must submit to the authority (leadership, direction, protection) of their husbands and that they must honor them. Verse 7 goes on to say:
“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.” (emphasis added)
Just as the servants and wives are to submit, the husbands are commanded to seek to know (understand) their wives, to protect them, and to give them honor as weaker (physically) but equal (spiritually). Treating each other in this way, Peter says, will allow your prayers to not be hindered.
Peter goes on to say:
“Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
Compassion, love, pity, courteousness (politeness), returning good for evil, blessings – all of this is something you do with your spouse, too (not just with strangers) to receive blessing at the hand of God.
And finally, Peter adds that all who wish to love life and see good days should:
- refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (deceit, dishonesty)
- eschew (hate, reject) evil, and do good
- seek peace, and ensure it
“the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” 1 Peter 3:7-12 (emphasis added)
Maintaing a right relationship with your Heavenly Father, praying words you mean, and having a good marriage relationship are key to a powerful prayer life.
Take some time to evaluate these three areas in your own life, or perhaps you can discuss it as a couple. What changes need to take place so that your life aligns with His plan? Then, ask God to help you live as He wishes, so that He can be free to answer your prayers and bless you as He wishes!