10 Things That Block Prayer From Being Answered

10 Things That Block Prayer From Being Answered

Approximate Reading Time: 4 Minutes

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Without prayer, our life in Christ is nothing. The Apostle Paul instructs us, “…but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6b).

Prayer is simply communicating with God, most often by verbally speaking out requests and petitions, giving Him thanksgiving and worship, and coming to Him with confession of sin. We should pray often; and in fact, more than that: “pray without ceasing,” according to 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Are there times when God will not listen to our prayers? Actually, yes. According to Scripture, there are numerous things that will hinder our prayers from being answered.

I’ve outlined 10 different items below that will block our prayers to God from being answered and our requests granted.

1. Praying to God Without Going Through His Son, Jesus Christ.

There’s no other way of getting around this. You must go to God the Father through Christ. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” – John 14:6.

Since sin in the human heart separates us from God, we need a way to be declared righteous and blameless by God. That Way is the Lord Jesus Christ: “Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1

Salvation and reconciliation with God come through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, and we must personally believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord in order to receive it.

2. Praying While Ignoring Scripture

Proverbs 28:9 states, “if one turns away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination.” God’s Word and instruction (referred in the Old Testament books as the Law) is an absolute must to listen to and adhere to. Not doing so and blatantly ignoring the clear command of the Bible will make God equate our prayers to Him to sin!

1 John 3:22 reinforces this by saying,  “and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things which are pleasing in His sight.”

3. Praying to Impress Others

Don’t pray to publicly draw attention to yourself, by trying to make a spectacle and show others how religious and close to God you supposedly are.  Don’t litter your speech to our Creator with many huge, lofty-sounding words.

Instead, look to present your petitions to God in private. Use simple, clear-cut language that is sincere, honest and comes from the heart.

This is all based on what Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:5-8 – “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

4. Praying While Mistreating Your Wife

1 Peter 3:7 directs us married men that even though our wives must submit to us, we in return need to give complete love, honor and respect to our spouses: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way…and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

5. Praying with Unconfessed Sin of Which You Refuse to Repent

Do you have bad, sinful habits that deep down you love and refuse to repent of? God will not listen to your prayers: “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

6. Praying with Unforgiveness in Your Heart

We’ve all been there. Someone has done us wrong, and we’re left hurt, bitter, betrayed, broken and/or angry.

As tough as it is, you’ve got to forgive them. Our Lord Jesus explained this further:

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” – Mark 11:25-26

7. Praying While Ignoring the Poor

Showing charity to our less-fortunate brothers and sisters can hinder prayer.  Proverbs 21:13 asserts, “he who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.”

8. Prayers Not Prayed

The next three are from the Book of James.

For the first one, it is ridiculously elementary: “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2)

9. Praying With Selfish or Lustful Motives

James 4:3 informs us, “you ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Make sure you don’t ask to satisfy a lustful or selfish heart that only focuses on the pleasures of life. Instead, see that your prayers are backed up by pure motives that line up with God’s will for your life.  1 John 5:14 states, “this is the confidence we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

10. Praying With a Doubting Heart

The last bit of advice from the Apostle James is a big one: do not ask while still having unbelief. Instead, believe with bold faith that God will come through! James 1:6-8 articulates, “but he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one you doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Melinda Viergever Inman

    This is a really thorough post about prayer. Having these all together in one place gives us a broad view, which is really helpful when considering prayer. I do feel like God’s grace needs to be mixed in here with all of these. Sometimes, especially when we’re newly born again or not born again yet, but are headed that direction, or maybe when we’re in crisis like Job, or resistant like Jonah, we don’t get all the boxes for all of these items checked off. At those times, I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit is interceding on my/our behalf and that Jesus is also my/our advocate and is praying for us like he did in John 17. None of us pray perfectly, so that’s a relief to me!

  2. Avatar

    Alynda Long

    I agree with Melissa! I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit’s intervention on my behalf when I falter. I love the reminder that we can’t get answers to prayers we don’t even ask! Blessings!

  3. Avatar

    Karen Friday

    What a great post, Scott. Thanks for putting these in a list. While I knew most of the reasons that block our prayers, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them listed all together with the Scripture references. What a good resource.

  4. Avatar

    Edna Davidsen

    Hi Scott Roberts!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Sure, prayer is a powerful tool. It’s a way to stay connected with God.

    As you wrote in the blog post, our heavenly father knows what we will pray for before we say the prayer.

    That’s encouraging to know.

    Sincerely!
    Edna Davidsen

  5. Avatar

    nabagesera alice

    I really appreciate this post because it has given much impact in me really God deserves the best indeed

  6. Avatar

    Blessed Kate collins

    Thank you so much for these insightful teaching on prayer, the Holy spirit help me to do the will of God as I pray

  7. Avatar

    Cyndi

    Prayer is such a powerful weapon. Is it any wonder that Almighty God places such strict restrictions on its use? Yet at the same time encouraging His followers to practice it freely & often. I love the fact that the more we pray (commune with God) the more we get to know Him & His character. How I adore Him!! How I love talking to Him!! How I appreciate His faithfulness, His love, His mercy & grace!!!

  8. Avatar

    Ben

    Some of these I have to disagree with. In fact, some of these points aligne more with legalism and/or prosperity gospel. Examples.
    2) praying while ignoring scripture- The first reference point was proverbs 28:9 which talks about turning you ear from the law and then 1 john 3:22 which speaks about keeping his commandments. This is legalistic for two reasons 1) we are dead to the old testament law (see galations) and 2) 1 john 3:23 should be notes as it states the commandment to be followed. Context is crucial.
    5) unconfessed sin and refusing to repent- 1st point is that we wont ever confess every sin because we dont realize every sin we commit or even remember them. 2nd the bible also says we stumble in many ways and that often includes falling to the same sin multiple times. We know paul had a contiuous problem with coveting. Does that mean his prayers were hindered? Is that grace?
    6)Unforgiveness in your heart- well what if your praying for help to forgive. We are not God and pften we may striggle to forgive. So what if that’s what we’re praying for? Is God going to ignore that?
    8) prayers not prayed- didnt Jesus say that our needs are known before we ask? What is we dont realize our needs? What if we see the prayer as unanswered but it was and the answer was no or not yet.

    These points actually limit God invovling scrutpures out of context . They represent faith plus works and also put God in a box as a genie. What simply hinders prayers is just matters ofnyour own heart. Lets keep it simple as it really is

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