Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Barriers to Prayer

I am currently preaching through 1 Peter.  This week's sermon is drawn from 1 Peter 3:1-7, which ends with these words:

"…so that your prayers may not be hindered."

As Peter has been writing to these early Christians scattered across Asia Minor he notes that there are circumstances, or perhaps better said, conditions of their hearts, which, when present, affect the ability of these Christians to have open communication with God through prayer.

John Calvin had this to say about that phrase of Peter:

"For we are more than insane, if we knowingly and willfully close up the way to God’s presence by prayer, since this is the only refuge of our salvation."

I love the way that Calvin cuts to the chase.  Here is my paraphrase: 

God is our only refuge, and we, through the conditions of our hearts, conditions that we know exist and do nothing to change, would close off the way to speak with God, and to clearly hear from God.  That's insanity!

Part of the preparation for preaching is that the text should speak to the preacher.  And this text speaks to me.  There are times, every day, when the conditions of my heart are such that I know I am not in the right place to approach God.  And I am thankful that God, by His Spirit, works on me and in me, so that preparing my heart is an integral, an essential part, of my approach to Him. 

May God be at work in your heart "…so that your prayers may not be hindered."

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. In my mid 20's I went through a time of neglecting my relationship with God. I did not reject my faith, but rather assumed that I could just walk back into the relationship unscathed whenever I finally got around to it. I will never forget the afternoon that I found these words of Calvin to be very true indeed. I had allowed my heart to harbor sin and had led a compromised life, yet I sauntered into God's presence as casual as could be and expected we could just have a little chat. My prayers were hindered. There was a block. There was something significantly wedged between us. Through an inner urging I knew it was my own hands that needed to remove these things through confession and repentance. I sobbed that afternoon because I never ever wanted to feel that aching void between my God and I again. Hindered prayers, once experienced, are so spiritually painful, the lesson only needs the one session!