What Gets in the Way?
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? … He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:6,8)
The amazing thing about the gospel is that Jesus makes it so easy to come into God’s presence! No special rituals are needed; no special places or methods or times; we can simply come “just as we are”! There is only one thing God requires: that we come with right attitudes. For the Christian faith is not some magic cult where the very act of worship or prayer in itself brings benefit; worship and prayer derive their value from our heart. And this priority of the heart is reflected in the fact that the Bible tells us that worship and prayer can be hindered, especially through wrong relationships.
First, the Bible says that wrong relationships with God hinder prayer and worship. That’s why David said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (Psalm 66:18-19). David certainly knew what it was to let things get in the way of his relationship with God at times; but he also discovered the importance of dealing with things quickly.
But second, the Bible says that wrong relationships with others hinder prayer and worship too. That’s why Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). With the same thought in mind, Peter encouraged husbands to treat their wives properly “so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).
Acting justly (relationships towards others) and walking humbly (relationships towards God) are keys to making sure there are no obstacles to our worship and prayers. If you’re aware of any such obstacles in your life, why not deal with them right now?
The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you. (1 Chronicles 28:9)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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