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Obstacle to Prayer

Dialogue not Monologue

God’s people desperately need to learn how to inquire of the Lord. Many pray like monologue, and often can’t wait a few seconds for God to answer before saying amen. So many are just too busy, some worked really hard try to serve God and man, but unable to receive direction from the Lord. Many have wasted lots of time and energy, due to the inability of hearing the voice of God. The answer is hidden in the scripture. Jesus said in John chapter 14; Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Jesus said verily twice, emphasizing only those who do the same work as he did are considered “believe on me” and their prayer will be answered, and Jesus’ work was doing the Father’s will, nothing of himself. Thus, if someone doesn’t know the will of God, nor following Jesus’ example, his prayer may not get any result. It is written; And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: (1John 5:14)

There is an example in Nehemiah chapter 2, he prayed to God and got answer immediately; And the king said to me, For what do you ask? So I prayed to the God of Heaven, and I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I pray that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, so that I may build it. (Neh 2:4,5) We see God answered his prayer by giving him the idea how to reply to the king’s question. In the book of Acts there are many examples, such as chapter 9:40 the dead woman stood up after Peter’s prayer. In chapter 10 Peter went up on the roof to pray and he saw a vision and the Spirit said to him three men are looking for you.

In the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord prayed three times to get the answer; And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will. And He came to the disciples and found them asleep. And He said to Peter, What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? (Mat 26:39,40) We see Jesus waited on the Father for decision about an hour. He did not ask anything for himself, although he knew the Father would grant it, for he said to Peter; Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? (26:53,54) I paused for a long time, have no idea what kind of suffering he had to go through, he willingly gave up his own will for all of us. Oh such love, such obedience, totally beyond any words can describe! I can see I know very little about God’s justice and righteousness.

The Will of God

But how can we know the will of God? Listen to Psalm 143:10; Teach me to do your will; for you are my God. This is what we should ask, and that is the type of prayer God will answer. But anyone pray this would have to be willing to give up his own will. When I look back in the past 20 over years I did not have real intention of asking God to “Teach me to do your will”. After went through all Psalms hundreds of times I finally woke up to see the truth. I am afraid of the cross, the dying to the self, not ready to pay the cost of being his disciple. I wish the Lord would accept a symbolic repentance, allow me to keep my way, not God’s way. In such condition I could not hear him.

Without truly committed to live for Christ, it is very easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we know how to do God’s will, without even asking or praying. It took me so long to see I am quite ignorant and rebellious like Isaiah 30, (planing without asking God), “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD , “Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin; (Isaiah 30:1 NKJV) This warns us if we do things with asking God, it may end up adding sin upon sin.

Jesus said In John 15; If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. It is only those abide in him are his disciples, their request will be done onto them. Therefore, we need to examine ourselves to make sure we truly believed and abide in him, the evidence is we bear much fruit and get what we asked for in prayers.

Apostle John told us the crucial thing about prayer is God’s will; These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. (1Jhn 5) My spiritual eye had been blind for a very long time, I just could not see it’s the will of God for us to be filled with the Spirit and speaking to ourselves with psalms. I did read these scriptures lots of times, but was not searching for the will of God, these words did not register into my mind.

The Lord’s Prayer

For a very long time, we missed several important things from the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 10 and 11 Jesus said; Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; God’s kingdom is where God rules and man’s kingdom is where man in control. It is written; And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luk 17:20,21 ) The kingdom of God is inside of us. Anyone who ask God’s kingdom come (to me) have to surrender his own right and freedom to live for self and let the Lord rule. If anyone would ask Jesus to come into the heart, he has to know this, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, it’s delusional even to think about him to be your subordinate. If one is willing to offer his body as a living sacrifice, Jesus will come and be his King, God’s kingdom then truly come to him. Too many are deceived to believe they are serving the Lord, but in fact they are not interested in asking or inquiring of the Lord for his will or his plan, they do the planing as long as they consider it’s good. Many have burnt out by carrying out the will of men.

Christ will not easily dwell in man’s heart, for Paul’s prayer for the church is specially for this purpose; For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (Eph 3:14-17) Obviously Christ did not dwell in some of the believer’s hearts so Paul had to bow his knee and pray about it. It takes time, Paul prayed for them all the time, he wrote in chapter one; Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Eph 1:15-17) They have faith but not enough, Paul have to keep praying for God to give them the Spirit and the knowledge of him.

The daily bread in the Lord’s prayer is not made of flour, for Jesus said in Mathew 4:4; It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus explicitly said to not pray for food and clothing; Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat 6:31-33) And in John 6:35; And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst. We need to learn from him everyday, how he lived while walking on earth, and his food is to the Father’s will as it is written; But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” So the disciples began to say to one another, “No one has brought him anything to eat, has he?” Jesus told them, “My food is doing the will of the one who sent me and completing his work. (ISV Joh 4:32-34)

After we decided to pick up the cross (offer our body as a living sacrifice) and start to live for Christ, then we would like to know God’s will. The center of a believer’s life becomes doing God’s will in His way, not what we think it’s best nor others consider good. Then, and only then we may have true desire to ask God for our daily bread, that is asking what should I do today, in order to carry out his will and plan. This process can be long and difficult, it means war with everything of this world. And the devil will try everything to destroy us, for Peter wrote; Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour; (1Pte 5:8) In the beginning, we are very ignorant of fighting spiritual war and often being taken captive by the evil ones. We need help badly.

Paul warned us in acts 20:30-31; Indeed, some of your own men will come forward and distort the truth in order to lure the disciples into following them. So be alert! Remember that for three years, night and day, I never stopped warning each of you with tears. (ISV) Today there great numbers of men coming forward with distorted truth, and too many blind people still can’t see and comprehend these scriptures. Very few are warning God’s people day and night with tears. My heart is still very slow to learn from Paul’s prayer for the church to know God’s will; For this cause we also, since the day we heard, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, (Col 1:9) My understanding is, when Paul prayed something like Psalm 27:11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, God taught him to pray like Col 1:9 for the disciples, so he prayed for the church in Coloss and other towns. In fact, Psalm 27:11 is one of the practical way to ask for our daily bread, the Lord will teach us in different times to pray for different things all according to God’s will and plan. Although I can see some truth now, I still have difficulty to pray Psalms with my whole heart such as; Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; (Psalms 13:3) Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. (Psalms 28:1) It is not easy.

Sin hinders Prayer

Many of us sometimes feel like bumping into a wall in spiritual growth, although we can still read the bible and pray, the spirit feels very “dry”. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for real prayer is sin and unrighteousness. It is written; The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us, and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the ground for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and heaven sent rain, and the ground produced its crops. (ISV Jas 5:16-18) Normally we don’t really want to know what sin is in our life. There two type of sinners, one type hate sin, they feel bad when they sin, another doesn’t, and are somehow comfortable about sin, for they failed to see the consequence. It is written; Behold, the LORD’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, that he will not hear. (Isa 59:1,2) Sin will separate man from God. This is perhaps why I don’t have close relationship with God, for I did not take his words seriously, still don’t have strong desire to pray like psalm 19:13, Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me: Then shall I be upright,

I have to learn from Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9; And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from your precepts and from your judgments: (Dan 9:4-6) He can walk in the lion’s den and yet when he pray he confession sin first. Daniel’s prayer was heard because the scripture said in chapter 10; 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. (ASV Dan 10:12,13) Daniel took sin as very serious offense to God, because he understand and respect the authority of God, thus he was considered “humble thyself before thy God.” But I am afraid I don’t know how to fear God, It’s written Our God is a consuming fire, but my heart and soul still lack of understanding.

We have too much self-confidence and self-righteousness. Maybe lots of people wish Jesus didn’t say; So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. (ISV Mat 5:29) A lot of prayer requests have been asking God to heal their illness and disease, The truth is sin causes sickness, instead of practicing the Lord’s prayer by confessing sin and seeking God for holiness, righteousness we want God to be our physician. we habitually forget certain scriptures like James 5:16; Therefore, make it your habit to confess your sins to one another and to pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (ISV) So few would teach and practice this, clearly, we have very little respect for the word of God or fear of the Lord. When Jesus said in Mathew 5:16; Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. Instead of seeking the Lord for doing good works, we say salvation not by works; Jesus said (5:20); For I say to you that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven. But many have showed very little interest to know how and assume we are more righteous. Are we not full of pride, like Psalm 5 said; The arrogant shall not stand in thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. (ASV 5:5)

Let’s read the word of God from Jeremiah;

Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; that have eyes, and see not; that have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith Jehovah: will ye not tremble at my presence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it? and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it. But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear Jehovah our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in its season; that preserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good from you. (ASV Jer 5:21-25)

We need to repent and humble ourselves before it’s too late, let’s pray:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness: according to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit fails: hide not your face from me, lest I be like to them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear your loving kindness in the morning; for in you do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul to you. Teach me to do your will; for you are my God: your spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Quicken me, O LORD, for your name’s sake: for your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also on me, and answer me. When you said, Seek you my face; my heart said to you, Your face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not your face far from me; Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (MKJV)