Many people ask why God seemingly doesn’t listen to their prayers, or they might know He hears but can’t figure out why He doesn’t respond or do anything.
Biblically, there are reasons why our prayers are hindered or not listened to by God.
In this mini-series on prayer, we examine ten things the Bible says that hinder prayer.
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10 Things the Bible says that hinder our prayers:
1. Our Prayers are Born of the Flesh – Praying from Selfish or Lustful Motives [the WHY]
- James 4:3 – You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions [pleasure, lusts].
2. We Don’t Pray According to His Will
- 1 John 5:14 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
3. We Try to Impress Others with Our Praying
- Matthew 6:5–8 – “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
4. We Pray in Doubt and We Don’t Pray in Faith and Draw Near to God in Confidence
- Matthew 21:22 – And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
- James 1:6–7 – But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
- Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
5. We Live in Sin and Disobedience
- Isaiah 1:15 – When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
- Isaiah 1:16–17 – [Therefore] Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
- Isaiah 59:2 – but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
- Psalm 66:18–19 – If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
- Cherish/regard: to cling to or hold on to
- Proverbs 28:9 – If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
- 1 John 3:8–9 – Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. … No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
- 1 John 3:22 – and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
- Leonard Ravenhill – A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning.
- John Bunyan – Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.
6. We Live with a Lack of Heavenly Behavior
- How we live affects our prayers
- Our lives should reflect the honor and reality of heaven
- 1 Peter 3:7 – Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
- Proverbs 21:13 – Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
7. We do not Abide in Prayer
- John 15:7 – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8. We Harbor Bitterness or Unforgiveness
- Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
9. Praying in our authority or our “Name”
- Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- We have peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness with God through Jesus … He is the only way unto the Father
- John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- Hebrews 7:25 – Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
- John 16:23b – … Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
10. We do not Pray
- James 4:2b – … You do not have, because you do not ask.
- Matthew 7:7–8 – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
» What in our lives needs to be cleansed and removed?
James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
- NKJV – The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
- NLT – The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
- NIV – The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
- CSB – The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
- NASB – The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
- NET – The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
- MEV – The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.
- ISV – The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Righteousness is as God is and as man ought to be.
So if we desire powerful and effectually working prayers, we must allow God to change and transform any and everything in our lives that hinder prayer and that does not come in alignment with His Word.
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Question: What has hindered prayer in your life?
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NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps other believers understand and apply the Bible as they grow and mature in their faith—desiring that they gain greater intimacy with Christ, experience the victorious Christian life, and transform the world through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Read more about him here.
About the Deeper Christian Podcast
Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. The Deeper Christian Podcast helps equip Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.
Whether you want to learn how to study God’s Word, grow in your faith, cultivate a powerful and effective prayer life, share the Gospel boldly, deepen your intimacy with Jesus, live victoriously, or transform the world through the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit, the Deeper Christian Podcast with NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) will encourage and equip you to grow spiritually and live a Christ-centered life.