Why Reconciliation Really Matters
While it's true that some prayers aren't answered the way we'd like because of God's sovereignty, the Bible clearly gives at least eight reasons why sometimes our prayers can become blocked.
Here are some of the prayer blockers:
- Sin (Isaiah 59:1–2)
- Disobedience (Deuteronomy 1:43–45)
- Disregard for God's Word (Proverbs 28:9)
- Pride (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)
Today, I want to take a look at two more potential prayer blockers—broken relationships and a lack of compassion for those in need.
First Peter 3:7 says, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
I know this is a passage for husbands about how to treat their wives, but did you catch that part at the end? "So that nothing will hinder your prayers." What's that about? Why did Peter mention hindered prayers in a passage about husbands and wives? Clearly there is a connection between our relationships and the effectiveness of our prayer lives.
Here's another clue to this mystery.
Mark 11:25 says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
This passage specifically addresses prayer. The bottom line here is that when we are praying for forgiveness we can't expect that prayer to be answered unless we have forgiven others.
Don't treat others as the Bible instructs us, and our prayers will be hindered. Don't offer forgiveness to the people who hurt us, and our prayers for forgiveness won't be answered. The clear conclusion is that our relationships with people impact our relationship with God.
Matthew 5:23–24 puts it this way, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."
In other words, make things right in your relationships before you come to God.
Take a minute to think about your own relationships. Have you made a mistake that you need to make right? Are you holding on to unforgiveness while simultaneously praying that God will forgive you? If so, stop reading and go be reconciled "so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
Lack of Compassion for Those in Need
If you're still reading this, it means you have your relationships in order. Good! But Scripture outlines another way that the way we treat others can become a prayer blocker.
Proverbs 21:13 says, "Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered."
When we ignore the needs of those around us, it limits God's response to us when we are in need.
When I look at my own life, this truth stings a bit. I don't make a habit of responding to the needy around me, and yet I expect God to respond immediately when I have a need.
This double standard can clearly lead to blocked prayers.
How about you? Do you respond to the cry of the needy around you? What's one thing you can do this week to respond to someone who is crying out for help?
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