The Final Push Toward Unblocked Prayer
Here are two prayer blockers. My hope is that you use this info as a check-up to identify areas in your own life that might be clogged up.
James 4:2 offers a great deal of hope on the subject of prayer.
It says, "You do not have because you do not ask God."
The implication is that when we ask God for something, we can expect Him to provide. There have been times when this verse has made me really, really frustrated. I ask and ask and ask God for something, and nothing seems to happen. I quote this Scripture back to Him and wonder, Why did you promise me this if it isn't true?
But what I didn't realize until recently is that I've been glossing over an important part of this passage.
Verse 3 says, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
God does answer prayer, but He's upfront about the fact that the intentions of my heart are not hidden from Him. This verse indicates that when we ask God for something we can expect to receive it but only when our motives are pure. So often I approach God with a request rooted in wrong motives. I want Him to change my circumstances so that I can experience greater comfort, or affirmation, or convenience.
First Samuel 16:7 reminds us, "The LORD looks at the heart."
Proverbs 16:2 says, "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD."
We can't sneak our wrong motives past Him. We can't ask for things for our own glory and expect God to move. If we go to God with our hearts out of whack, our pipeline to Him is going to get clogged.
This prayer blocker is one I personally struggle with often—doubt.
James 1:5–7 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord."
That is about as clear as Scripture ever gets. If we doubt, we shouldn't expect anything from God.
I like the analogy James gives in this passage. When we doubt, we become like a wave on the sea. Think of the seashore for a minute. The waves come in and then pull back out. Then come in and then back out.
Our prayers can look a lot like this when we doubt that God will answer. We give Him our requests, but then our heart retreats and we try to solve the problem on our own. When that doesn't work we send our request back to God. But when we start to wonder if He is really good or really able, we lose faith and wonder where God has gone. God asks to bring our prayers to Him and wait for Him to respond while holding on to the faith that He will do what He has promised.
Recently, I found my prayer journal from six years ago. I couldn't believe how God had moved in my life since those prayers were written. Every single prayer that I had written down has been answered.
I wrote those journal entries during a painful time when I really wanted God to change my circumstances. Several times I cried out to Him asking, "Why don't you hear me?" Doubt was a constant companion during that season.
But as each prayer was (slowly) answered, my faith strengthened. Now looking back, I cannot believe the things that God has done in my life. I was reminded that doubt doesn't stand a chance when we take time to notice the prayers that God has already answered.