Prayer is communication with Jehovah God Almighty; it is a two-way conversation. So when you pray to your Father in heaven, He will answer you according to His will.
However, there are hindrances to prayers--things and behaviors that will prevent an answered prayer. Here, let us briefly go over some of these hindrances, so we can learn to eliminate them in our lives in order for our prayers to be answered next time.
"But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." (James 1:6-7)
When we pray to Jehovah, we need to have the right heart attitude of belief. Jehovah is Almighty, and His very name means "He who chooses to become," meaning that He has the ability and power to be and do anything He wants. When we ask for something yet doubt whether He can grant the request, we are treating Him as though He lacks the power to do what we ask for.
Not praying according to God's will
Jesus, God's Son, taught us to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." (Matthew 6:10)
We need to pray for Jehovah's Kingdom to come and desire for His will to be fulfilled on Earth, as it is in His heavenly home. His Kingdom encompasses His entire will for us.
When we pray without taking God's will into account, we are praying amiss. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures." (James 4:3)
We must seek God's Kingdom first; make it our number one priority. His Kingdom is the answer to all of our needs, and it's the solution to all of our problems. When His Kingdom comes, we will have everything. "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is like any relationship between earthly parents and their child. Not everything a child asks for will be granted by his parents. The parents answer requests based on their will and promises. This is done in everyone's best interest. Likewise, Jehovah grants our wishes only according to His will and His promises for us. Rest assured, His will for us is purely good.
Not abiding in Jesus and his words
We know that we need to seek the will of God, and part of that will is for us to abide in Him and His Son. "Abiding" in God and Jesus is doing their will, following their teachings and words. When we ask for something and don't do what Jehovah desires, it shows that we are asking for selfish reasons, without taking God's will into consideration.
Jesus promised us: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7)
Not praying in Jesus' name
Jesus told us to pray in his name: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:13)
"Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full." (John 16:24)
Jesus denounced those who pray just to show off: "And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward." (Matthew 6:5)
In order for our prayers to be heard by Jehovah, we must pray in humility, truthfully and sincerely from our hearts. We should pray in secrecy: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee." (Matthew 6:6)
While praying, we should be earnest, without using meaningless repetition: "And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matthew 6:7-8)
Not forgiving others
Is it right to expect that our sins be forgiven when we don't forgive others ourselves?
Jesus told us to pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)
So before we pray, we should achieve a peaceful mind and hold no grudges in our hearts. When we forgive the wrong that has been done to us, we will be able to ask God's forgiveness for our own wrongdoing, for "if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14)
Selfishness and lack of compassion
"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, He also shall cry, but shall not be heard." (Proverbs 21:13)
Mistreatment of your marriage partner
"Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)
"There they cry, but none giveth answer, Because of the pride of evil men." (Job 35:12)
Sin of any kind
As you can see, any sin keeps you from receiving an answer to your prayer from Jehovah.
"Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)
"And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood." (Isaiah 1:15)
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9)
"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah; But the prayer of the upright is his delight." (Proverbs 15:8)
Therefore, before God answers our prayers, we must eliminate any and all sins from our lives. How can we avoid and treat sins? We do it through the born-again experience. To learn more, go to http://tinyurl.com/ykj8vlu
While sins are a major blockade to prayers, the righteous--those who whole-heartedly devote their lives to seeking God's will--can experience delayed answers to their prayers due to Satanic hindrances.
For example, Daniel did not receive God's answer for his prayer until twenty-one days later:
"And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, thou man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, and to humble thyself before thy God, thy words were heard: and I am come for thy words' sake. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:10-13)
The apostle Paul reminded us: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against
the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)
Yes, our main enemies are the demonic forces--evil spirits who do the will of their leader, Satan the devil. Satan and his followers do anything they can to go against Jehovah. From Daniel's experience, we can see that Satan has organized his evil force in the form of "principalities," where a demon rules over one specific region of Earth, like the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" mentioned in the book of Daniel. This is the "principalities" Paul spoke of.
Therefore, we must be strong, hold steadfast to our faith, and constantly rely on God to help us ward off the evil spirits. We must be persistent in our prayers. Jesus urged us to persistently pray to God. (Luke 18:1-8)
Jesus promised: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
So keep on asking, seeking, and knocking according to the will of Jehovah, and He will answer you in His due time!
One final word...
Many times, Jehovah answers our prayers not exactly in the way we expected. Sometimes, we may not even realize He has answered us. Other times, He will not answer us when our wishes conflict with His will. But Jehovah will always do what is best for us. So even though we don't get everything we want, we will always, always get the best.
And the best of the best is a sacred, intimate relationship with Jehovah. Pray that you will develop such a relationship with Him. Seek His face, and you shall find Him...
Jehovah said: "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
(All Bible quotations are from the American Standard Version of 1901 unless otherwise indicated.)
For other basic facts about the Bible, visit "Bible FAQs" at http://www.shirleycheng.com
Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author (with 21 book awards, including nine Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Awards), motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah? God Almighty's Infinite Love & Wisdom to Propel You to Greatness"), contributor to twenty, and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. Visit http://www.shirleycheng.com for more inspiration.
Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at http://www.shirleycheng.com and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.