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Finding “The Thing” That’s Keeping You From Praying

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You’ll notice I did not title this Obstacles To Answered Prayer. I want my prayer time to be a conversation with my Heavenly Father not as reason to get an affirmative answer to my requests, although, I do prefer a “Yes” to “No” or a “Wait”.

My prayer time has been in the tank lately, mostly because I have issues with my current situation and I don’t want to talk to God about it. Pretty far from what I stated I wanted my prayer time with God to look like, right? It happens and I am working through it, in fact you’re gong to see me work through it as you read on.

I want to talk to God in a way that isn’t tied to what I need, yet, I can’t seem to bring myself to the table to even acknowledge that I do, in fact, want something. My soul has been through a lot lately and find my self to “soul tired” to pray.

God, on the other hand, God patiently sits at a table with two chair waiting for me to join Him.

God knows me, like he knows you. He knows how needy we are.

So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:8 NASB

Or, as the Message Bible paraphrases with Shakespearean verve,

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. 

There are times I cannot pray and times I don’t want to prayer. Currently it’s the latter. Either way, I refuse to come to God as a phony. I don’t do phony with my friends, my family or my God.

I am using these six potential obstacles as litmus test. It’s like R.J. MacReady in The Thing poking a hot wire into the blood of everyone at the Antarctic research station trying to find out who The Thing has become.

I’m sure once I dip that hot wire into the petri dish there will be a strong reaction, much like in the movie.

I imagine it will be pretty scary, much like the scene itself. You’ve been warned.

What are the six petri dishes I have to dip that hot wire of curiosity into?

Unconfessed sin

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

Does the Lord literally not hear us? Does he stick his fingers in his ears and say “Blah, Blah, Blah I can’t Heeeaaarrr youuuuu!” I don’t think so. I believe this to mean, he will not entertain our requests until we have accepted responsibility for what has gotten in the way of our friendship.

Lack of faith

James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

If we don’t believe that God can answer our prayers, our prayers will be ineffective. Do you believe God can do anything? Big or small? If I doubt God can do it, why am I praying? If I can’t come to God with at least a mustard seed of faith, I’m not coming. I refuse to insult The God of the Impossible with my doubt.


1 John 3:22 says, “And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”

I would make a horrible doctor or therapist. If I tell people something and they do not do it, I would not see them anymore. If you refuse to lose weight or forgive your parents, you could not come back to see me unless you did what I told you. Seems right to me.

I can’t receive anything from God if I am disobeying the things he’s told me to do. God is not withholding anything, it is my disobedience that holding by blessing, my answer in escrow. When I start obeying, I’m ready to receive it.

Lack of forgiveness

Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

If we are holding on to unforgiveness, our prayers will not be effective. If we are holding on to unforgiveness while speaking to the Ultimate Forgiver, there’s only one word to describe that conversation, awkward.

It’s hypocrisy to speak to God about forgiveness with an unforgiving heart. How can we receive from God what we need if we are holding out our hands filled with grudges?

Selfish motives

James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

If we are praying for selfish reasons, our prayers will not be answered. What will you do with what you are asking God for? If you are asking for forgiveness so you can feel better but won’t share that forgiveness with others, that is a selfish motive. If you are asking for financial blessing, only to use it for yourself, offering no generosity to others, that’s a selfish motive.

Why do you want what you want from God and, if it were answered, how would you share it with others? Why is the “why” behind your prayer. Call it out and let God judge it.

Setting up idols in our lives

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

If you’re a single man whose just scored a date with a knock out of a person in looks, personality and heart, would you bring another woman with you just in case the date doesn’t work out?

Maybe a better way to describe idolatry is like being at tribal council on the tv show Survivor. If you have an idol you have to play it before the vote, so if you’re voted out the idol comes into play and you cannot be voted out.

Do I come to prayer with an idol in my pocket in case God tells me “No” or”Wait” instead of Yes?

This is what it means to have an idol. We carry around an idol in case our real God doesn’t work out. If you were God, how would you feel about the person who brought their idol(s) to a private conversation?


If you’re struggling to talk with God, as I am at the moment, take these six petri dishes, stick a hot wire in them and see which one reacts. In using this process you will have exposed The Thing, the danger lurking in your heart, and you can deal with it accordingly.

So, which one was it? Which of these “things” was the culprit in my heart? That’s none of your business, until I decide to write about it.

I am a Christian Coach and whether you’re a pastor, leader or lay person who needs some guidance moving forward, let me help.

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