Spiritual Disciplines Series

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Spiritual Disciplines-Prayer Part 2 Roadblocks to Answered Prayer

Last week we began to look at the Spiritual Discipline of Prayer. We noted particularly that prayer is the Next Slide
Prayer is the Conduit to God’s Power, it’s like Plugging into the Power Source.
We specifically talked about prayer being expected, expected by Jesus, that it was a very clear expectation throughout all of the New Testament, and that it was patterned by Jesus. We talked about prayer being something that is learned, mostly by persistent, disciplined time in prayer but that it can also be learned through praying with others and we closed with the fact that every prayer we as believers pray is answered with either a Yes, a No, or a Not yet.
This morning I’d like to rephrase my last statement slightly. Let me change it to the following: Next Slide
Every prayer of the believer, that reaches the Ear of the Father, is answered with either a Yes, a No, or a Not yet.
I’m sure your wondering right now, why the change? Are there prayers God doesn’t answer? To answer that question, I want you to look at a verse. Next Slide Psalm 66:18
Psalm 66:18 ESV
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Since we have looked at this verse together, let me give you some of the historical significance of this Psalm. Most Biblical scholars believe that this was a Psalm of King Hezekiah written after the events of 2 King 18. King Hezekiah was a good and Godly King, the complete opposite of his father, King Ahaz. King Ahaz had led the Southern Kingdom of Judah to rebel against God, he closed the Temple doors and had altars built on every corner of Jerusalem. As a result of Ahaz leading the people of Judah to sin against God, God had delivered them over to their enemies. In this instance their brothers in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. To save themselves from utter destruction, Ahaz paid the Assyrian kingdom an annual tribute to save them from their enemies.
Several things took place when Ahaz died and his son Hezekiah became the King. One, within a month King Hezekiah opened the Temple back up and restored worship to God there. He also destroyed all of the idols and altars his father had built. Then he lead what remained of the Nation on a time of corporate and individual repentance and a return to worship of the One True God. Lastly, he stopped paying annual tribute to the Assyrians.
That last thing he did angered King Sennacherib of Assyria. Before long an Assyrian army of at least 185,000 was surrounding the walled city of Jerusalem. On their way to Jerusalem, they destroyed 46 fortified cities in Judah, and took over 200,000 into captivity. Things looked pretty bleak for Jerusalem. With the army, King Sennacherib also sent a letter mocking King Hezekiah, but more importantly mocking the Almighty God.
Hezekiah sent a messenger to the prophet Isaiah and then he took the letter from King Sennacherib, brought it to the Temple and spread it out before the Lord and began to pray. Soon he received a message from the prophet Isaiah, let me read to you the last part of that message:
Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.
Now I want you to picture something for a moment. Jerusalem was surrounded by an army of at least 185,000, an army known for defeating walled cities. They were notorious for skilled archers that would pick the enemies off of the wall while they built siege mounds to enable them to climb the walls and enter the cities. If you stood on the walls of the city, the army spread out in every direction as far as the eye could see. Yet the very night after King Hezekiah received word from the prophet Isaiah, the angel of the Lord descended on the army of King Sennacherib and killed 185,000.
Biblical historians believe that it was at that point in time that King Hezekiah wrote his praise to God that we read in Psalm 66. There is no doubt that had King Hezekiah not led the Nation of Judah on corporate and individual revival and a return to worship of God, the angel of the Lord would not have rescued them. To me, that adds powerful significance to Psalm 66:18;
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
That brings me back the question I posed earlier; Next Slide
Are there prayers God doesn’t answer?
The answer to the question is Yes, there are prayers that seemingly never reach Ears of the Father. Next Slide
It is as if there is a road block somewhere between the one praying and the Ears of the Father.
That brings us to the title of this mornings message: Next Slide
I owe a debt of gratitude for Chip Ingram for his outline for this mornings message. from his recent series The Power of Prayer.
Next Slide

Roadblocks To Answered Prayers.

As we look at these, turn with me in your Bibles to James 4. That is page 1290 in the pew Bibles
The 1st Roadblock I want to look at together this morning is the
Next Slides

1. The Roadblock of Prayer-less-ness.

We talked about this some last week when we talked about Plugging in to the Power Source.
We also see this is in James 4:2 Next Slide
James 4:2 ESV
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
James 4:2 “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, becuase you do not ask.”
We spent a good deal of time on this roadblock last week, so let’s move on to Roadblock #2. Next Slide

2. The Roadblock of Wrong Motives.

We see this highlighted in James 4:3 Next Slide
James 4:3 ESV
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Most of the time our wrong motives are tied to selfish desires. Perhaps personal possessions we’d like to have, or a relationship we desire, maybe even hardships on someone who we feel has treated us unfairly or gotten a promotion ahead of us, or made the starting line-up instead of us, of has more friends than us. I want you to notice something in James 4:2-3 that I think is key, what is the most repeated word in these 2 verses? Next Slide
James 4:2–3 ESV
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Did you notice what I noticed? The word “you” is repeated 7 times, 8 if you count the word “yourNext Slide
2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:2-3
James is not writing to God centered believers here, oh I’m sure there may have been a few here and there, but it appears that most on his reading list were extremely self-centered and their life, and in turn their prayer list reflected a self-centered mentality. As a result James begins by letting them know they don’t have because they don’t go to God in prayer, and when they do, their motives and prayer list are focused not on the will of God but on the fulfillment of their own selfish desires. For further evidence of this, go back to verses 1 & 2 of this chapter.
James 4:1–2 ESV
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
James here addresses quarrels, fights, selfish passions that are at war within you, he addresses selfish desires so intense that murder comes to mind. By the way, according to John MacArthur, James isn’t necessarily saying that actual murder is taking place.
The word James uses here “in this context, could include murderous hatred, extremely destructive behavior, and even suicide. When the lusting person cannot achieve his desired goals—whether for reputation, prestige, sexual gratification, money, power, escape through drugs or alcohol, success, possessions, the affections of another person, or whatever—the result is often catastrophic to others and always destructive of oneself.” MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (p. 189). Chicago: Moody Press.
This fits well with what Jesus said in The Sermon on the Mount when He spoke about murder and equated a hateful angry heart to murder.
The point here is this, our desire when we pray should be, that when God answers our prayers His reputation is enhanced. Let me repeat this, because this is so very important.
Next Slide
Our desire when we pray should be, that when God answers our prayers His reputation is enhanced.
Isn’t this what we see patterned by Jesus Himself as He prayed on the Mount of Olives in Luke 22:42?
Luke 22:42 ESV
42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Luke 22:42 “saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.’”
With these things in mind, James addresses the Roadblock to Answered prayer,
the of Wrong Motives.
I was talking with one of my kids from back when I was in the Youth Ministry. His name is Steve Kramer. Steve and his wife Julie are now missionaries. Pam and I have supported them with prayers and finances for many years. Steve has cerebral palsy. His parents were told he would likely die as a baby, later they were told he would never walk, they were wrong on both accounts. When I was talking to Steve this week he said sometimes “We might inadvertently ask with wrong motives because we don’t always recognize a greater plan God has and have a focus that is temporal rather than eternal.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this is seen in the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. She was a young struggling Christian teenager when she was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. She prayed countless times for God to heal her and knew in her mind He could heal her if He wanted to. She questioned too many times to count why God had allowed this to happen in the 1st place. Couldn’t an all powerful God have prevented this tragic event from taking place. When it became evident that God was not coming through with the answers she was seeking, when the reality set in that He was saying No to her requests for His healing touch. She became bitter. In those days of bitterness she prayed more with a clinched fist that a mind open to a Sovereign God with a perfect plan, even one that included a life as a quadriplegic.
A few years ago she wrote the following; “I was sick and tired of pious platitudes that well meaning friends often gave me at my bedside. Patting me on the head, trivializing my plight, with the 16 good biblical reasons as to why all this has happened. I was tired of advice and didn’t want anymore counsel. I was numb emotionally, desperately alone, and so very, very frightened. Most of the questions I asked, in the early days of my paralysis, were questions voiced out of a clenched fist, an emotional release, an outburst of anger. I don’t know how sincere my questions really were. I was just angry. But after many months those clench fists questions became questions of a searching heart. I sincerely and honestly wanted to find answers.
She had a young teenage friend named Steve Estes. One day when she was pouring her heart out to him, he opened up Scripture to her, looked at the story of the Crucified Savior. The ultimate story of cruel injustice, an injustice that was all a part of the perfect plan of the Sovereign God. After reading through Scripture, he said 10 words that changed the course of her life.
He said Next Slide
“God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.”
 He went on to explain it this way: “Joni, God allows all sorts of things he doesn’t approve of. God hated the torture, injustice, and treason that led to the crucifixion. Yet he permitted it so that the world’s worst murder could become the world’s only salvation. In the same way, God hates spinal cord injury, yet he permitted it for the sake of Christ in you—as well as in others. Like Joseph when he told his brothers, ‘God intended my suffering for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of My Diving Accident JULY 30, 2017 The Gospel Coalition
It has now been over 50 years since Joni’s accident, since God turned a deaf ear to her requests for healing. Since God permitted what He hates to accomplish what He loves. She now has an international ministry that has been going strong since 1979.
What I am hoping we all understand this morning, is that our motives when we pray are key to overcoming any potential roadblocks to God’s answering of our prayers, and that ultimately when we pray we should have as our desire that God’s reputation is enhanced, that we would pray as Jesus did in Luke 22:42not My will, but Yours, be done.
That brings us to the next of the Roadblocks to Answered prayers: Next Slide

3. The Roadblock of Sin.

We skimmed the surface of this one with the 1st verse we looked at this,
Next Slide
Psalm 66:18 ESV
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Isaiah also addresses this in Isaiah 59:1-3 Next Slides
Isaiah 59:1–3 ESV
1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.
“1Behold, the Lord’s Hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, of His ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2but your iniquities have made a separation between you and Your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear; 3For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.”
Often times the Roadblock to answered prayers is unconfessed sin in our life and an unrepentant heart. I really can’t speak for you, but more often than not for me, it doesn’t take long, as I seek God, that He opens my eyes to unconfessed sin. Once I confess the sin, and repent, I can approach His throne with confidence. Of course I still need to be motivated by a desire that God’s reputation be enhanced.
This brings us to Roadblock #4; Next Slide

4. The Roadblock of an Unforgiving Spirit.

Jesus addresses this in Mark 11:25 Next Slide
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.Mark 11:25
Of all people, those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ should be the quickest to forgive, yet far too much of the time we are the slowest, we hold grudges the longest and seem to relish harboring a bitter spirit towards those whom we feel have wronged us.
Let me ask you a very important question. As I am asking the question, I 1st want you to think of those who are a part of this church. Next Slide
Is there anyone who is a part of Liberty Chapel who are you are struggling to forgive for something?
It may be big, or it may be small, but you just won’t forgive them. That brings me to another key question. Next Slide
Have you gone to that individual?
What happens way too frequently in the church is, we are quick to go to others to complain about what we believe someone else has done to us, but we don’t go to that individual. Bitterness begins to take root in us, soon we do our best to avoid that person, soon those we have been complaining too, do the same thing, and a division begins to happen in the church. The amazing thing is, more often than not, we didn’t even fully understand what happened in the 1st place, and had we gone to the offending party to begin with, the whole thing would have been quickly straightened out.
If someone came to your mind when I asked the 1st question, I want you to commit to doing 2 things today.
Pray and confess your lack of forgiveness to the God, Who has forgiven you of way more than you deserve. Ask Him to change your heart towards that individual and then...
Contact that person today, or at the very latest this week, and take them out for coffee, not for the purpose of confronting them, but for the purpose of seeking their forgiveness for your bitterness and lack of forgiveness.
By the way, can I add something very key here, my philosophy on apologize has long been that one little word disqualifies every apology. You know what that word is? It’s the word “but”. Next Slides
One little word disqualifies every apology, the wordbut.
Please keep that in mind this week if you are planning on going to someone. Don’t disqualify your apology by excusing your offence with the word but.
Roadblock #5 Next Slids

The Roadblock of the Wrong Treatment of your Spouse.

We see this highlighted in 1 Peter 3:7 Next Slide
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.1 Peter 3:7
Now before you wives breath a sigh of relief since this verse addresses only the husband, don’t forget Peter has just used 6 verses to address the wives and only 1 to address the husband, and the use of the word “likewise” pretty much lumps both relationships together. Next Slide
Chip Ingram, with Living on The Edge Ministries says; “Unity in our homes is a prerequisite for power with God.”
He goes on to say;
Why would God hold up your prayers? Because He is more concerned that the wife and the husband have the kind of relationship that models the love of Christ, than He is you giving what you’re asking for.
Couples, how are things in your relationship? Wives, are you submitting to your husband? Husbands, are you loving your wive as you should, showing honor to her? Is your relationship modeling the love of Christ, not just for others to see, but even more important for one another to see? Is your relationship with each other putting up a Roadblock to answered prayers?
This brings us to the last Roadblock to answered prayers, Next Slides

6. The Roadblock of stinginess in our giving.

Now just so you’ll know that I didn’t add this with an ulterior, please note the offering has already been taken!
There is a direct correlation in Scripture between the power of prayer and the generosity of our hearts. (Chip Ingram)
We see this addressed in Proverbs 21:13
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will call out himself and not be answered”. Proverbs 21:13
When we turn our back on needs God places before us, we cannot expect He is going to listen to and answer our prayers. Now please understand me here, I am not saying that we should be giving out cash at every street corner where we see a beggar. In most instances we probably shouldn’t.
What I am saying is this,
I believe that we turn our back on a lot of opportunities God has placed before us to meet others needs without ever giving a thought and without uttering a single prayer to God for His direction.
Remember when we looked at 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says;
pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
My challenge to all of us this week is, before we turn a blind eye to the needs of others, seek the face of God to see if this may just be a need He has placed before us. And if it is, give joyously.
So there are the 6 Roadblocks to Answered Prayers.
I’d like to give one more challenge before we leave this morning. Take you notes from this morning and review them throughout this week, and while reviewing them, pray, seeking the Lord to see if any of these Roadblocks are present in your life.
Are any of these Roadblocks are present in my life?
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