I know—the first thing we all think is I have heard this one before, it’s sin, of course… or a lack of faith… oh, yeah, and timing… Yes, all three of these are valid and commonly held reasons given for why God may hesitate in sending the answers for our prayers. However, there are a few other ways our prayers can be hindered and, in this article, I have outlined four.
Our prayers may be delayed because…
We don’t really want what we are praying for.
Jesus said that if we ask for anything (that is in God’s best), then we will receive it (Mark 11:24). If this is the case, then why aren’t you getting what you ask for? Maybe because if your prayers were truthful they would sound more like, “Now I lay me down to sleep… but I really don’t want to sleep…” See, God will not violate your free will, even if that means not answering your prayers until you are ready for them to be answered.
For instance, while I prayed for my husband for years, I was not ready to be the wife God wanted me to be until just last year. So, God delayed the answer to that prayer until I was ready for the answer. It took a few years for me to get that one through my head, but praying for God to direct your words and to give you a spirit of truth will help to decrease this issue in our lives.
We’re not fully trusting in God’s promises.
In other words, God can heal cancer, but not a cold. Yet, our entire Christian theology is based on the idea that “God is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and that “He (God) does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34). How can God answer one person’s big prayers and not yours? It has nothing to do with God and everything to do with how much you actually trust and believe in God. See, all the promises of the Old Testament and blessings of the New Testament must work for you just as well as they work for other Christians, or God is a liar. God does not change!
So the difference has to be how much you trust God. Think of it this way—any of the apostles could have walked on water, because the same Jesus would have told any of them to come out to him, but how many actually were able to do this miracle? Only one–because only one trusted Jesus enough to ask for it. When it comes to our prayers, we need to be asking God to show us ways that we are hindering His answers by our disbelief and ask for Him to teach us to trust Him more and more.
We’re praying for opposing things.
This one sounds silly, doesn’t it? But the Bible says that “the heart is deceitful above all things,” otherwise known as we change our minds… a lot! Today, I want to feel better because I am sick and tomorrow I don’t want to go to work. Back and forth, my prayers go, changing all the time. In this same issue comes the back and forth between “trusting God” and “I can do it all myself,” which can leave us wondering where God is and why He isn’t answering.
I know God is able to and does sort it out, but if you are waiting on a miracle from God, He may wait until your desires stay consistent. Instead of allowing our prayers to flip-flop with our emotions, we need to pray that God directs the desires of our hearts and gives us the wisdom to know what to pray for.
The enemy is opposing us.
Jesus said that he prayed for Peter, because the enemy had asked permission to “sift him like wheat.” This is the one I forget about most. Why? Well, the enemy is cunning and deceitful, to the point that I even forget there is a fight going on. And, given that we live in his territory, anything is fair game unless we have specifically brought it to God for His safe keeping. Anything means anything—a bad hair day, traffic delaying us to work, a bad moment coming home—these moments can turn into more, into fear, anger, impatience, selfishness. So what should we categorize as from the enemy (or own flesh) opposing God? Jesus said that “anyone [or anything] that is not for Me, is against Me,” so if the problem is not producing an attitude that brings us closer to God’s character, then it very well may be the enemy trying to cut us down.
Simple, yes, but so easy to forget. We need to pray for wisdom to see the truth about what is going on around us and always ask God to be the One who “walks in the midst of [our] camp, to deliver [us] and give [our] enemies over to [us]” (Deut 23:14).
Finally, remember that we are seeking to know God better through our journey with Him, more than just seeking His blessings, promises and answers to our prayers. As we center our lives around His word and His ways, we will find that these hindrances become less and less as we draw closer to a perfect understanding of who God is.