Let me begin this meditation by defining the word ‘prevail’. There are several suggested meanings:
1) To be strong or well.
2) To stretch or strain forward.
3) To advance to gain the advantage.
In James 5:16 we read, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
In the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the same verse reads like this: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”
In Deuteronomy 4:29, Moses told the children of Israel, “But from there, you will search for the LORD your God, and you will find Him, when you seek for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” In Isaiah 55:6, we are challenged, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call to Him while He is near.”
A. Some of our Praying is not effective. Why?
1. Praying with a wrong motive will get you nothing. James 4:3 “You ask and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.”
I was raised in Sunday school and church. When I was in the early grades in public school, usually at least once in the school year, they would take a day off studies, go to some farmer’s pasture and have an all-day picnic. Those were such fun times. I would start praying, “Lord please don’t let it rain on that day. I won’t use any bad words; I will do my chores without being asked.
I will ____, I will _____”.
So many of those days it rained and the picnic was cancelled. I would be miffed with God. “Why God?” My prayer was selfish. God isn’t against picnics, but He is against self-centered hearts.
2. If I have sin in my heart that I have not confessed and repented of, my prayers will not be answered. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.”
We should pray like David did in Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The good news is if we confess our sins, the LORD is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) If your prayers aren’t being answered, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any sin that is hindering your fellowship with Him.”
3. A bitter or unforgiving spirit will impact your prayer life. Listen to what Jesus declared in Mark 11:25-26: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven, may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Are you harboring a bitter and unforgiving spirit towards anyone? The scriptures are very clear: be reconciled with that person, so that your prayers are not hindered. If you are not willing to be reconciled to another, it will do you very little good to pray, read your Bible, go to church or involve yourself in any kind of serving capacity. God’s directive is very clear: “Go and be reconciled.”
4. If our relationship with others isn’t right, that can also hinder our prayers or praying.
Listen to what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:7:
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so that your prayer will not be hindered.”
In Ephesians 5:21-33 the Apostle Paul gives amazing guidance:
a. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (vs. 21)
b. Husbands love your wives (sacrificially) even as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her … (vs. 25-33a)
c. The wife must respect her husband. (vs 5:33b)
Any husband who loves his wife the way Paul lays out in these verses will have the respect of his wife and his prayer life will be greatly rewarded.
I have just set before you possible reasons why your prayers are not being answered. There may be others, such as disobedience, or compromise with the world that are issues in your life. The Holy Spirit will show you what the problem is.
In our next meditation I will share with you ways to get your prayer answered.
God bless you as you seek Him,