Many times throughout the Christian life it is common to ask questions like… is God really out there? Does He really hear my prayers? Is my faith real? These types of thoughts can be very discouraging and often lead a Christian to continue down a path away from God. In this article I want to tackle these questions with the hope of encouraging my Brothers and Sisters in Christ to remain steadfast in their prayers.
There are many scriptures that address the question of hindered prayers, for now though I want to focus on what we find in the book of James Chapter 4 verse 8:
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – ESV
A few years ago I asked my Pastor Mark Neal how I could hear God. It seemed like I would pray and pray and pray and hear nothing but dead silence. I felt alone and thought maybe I was doing something wrong.
We were standing in the lobby of our Church and Mark told me to walk outside. Confused, I did what he asked. When I got outside I turned to look at him through the glass doors… he motioned for me to keep walking. After I got about 30 feet away I turned and looked at him again… he was saying something to me. Obviously I couldn’t hear him, so a little perturbed I went back inside.
Did you hear what I said? he asked. Obviously not, I was too far way was my reply. Which was exactly his point. The fact that I couldn’t hear God in my prayers and meditations was a clear indicator that I wasn’t drawing near to God. That my hands weren’t clean, that I was double-minded… trying to love and walk with God when I still loved walking in the world.
A few verses earlier in that same Chapter of James in Verse 4 we read:
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” – ESV
These are very strong words from James.
That conversation with Mark lead me to self-reflect on the life I was living as a Christian. As I matured further in my faith, I came to realize that there were things in my life I had to give up if I wanted to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Things that I loved had to be removed from my life and not just obviously sinful behavior like pornography. There were certain shows I stopped watching (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead), movies I avoided, books I threw away, habits I wanted to change (anger and lying for example), even friends I had to stop hanging around.
Paul writes “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
If I was to be honest with myself, there were a whole lot of things in my life that didn’t come close to honoring God, in fact many things were an outright abomination in His eyes. Yet I couldn’t understand why God seemed so far away, why my prayers seemed to go unanswered. What a mystery this was… (that’s a Draxism)
Francis Chan described the Christian life as being like silver. Smiths would heat and heat silver until all of the impurities would rise to the surface, then they would clear all of the junk off the surface and repeat the process until the silver had a mirror like quality, and they could see their reflection. Then they knew they had very pure silver.
In our lives we go through many trials and tribulations (the heat)… which often times reveal our impurities. When we actively seek to remove those impurities from our lives we will become more and more like Christ. Eventually God and the world will see a reflection of Christ in us.
If you find yourself asking some of the questions in this article I want you to ask yourself some more tough questions…
- How is your spiritual life? Do you spend quality time with God every day? Do you read and meditate on the Word of God?
- Do you fellowship with other believers in Christ regularly?
- Is there any sin in your life you need to repent from?
- Is there anything in your life that displeases God? Have you been convicted to stop a behavior or remove something or someone from your life?
Answering these questions truthfully may be very uncomfortable for you, but I promise you this… If you want to explore a much deeper relationship with Jesus Christ than you have before… you must fully surrender your life to Him.
He doesn’t want a piece or a part of you, He doesn’t want you for an hour on Sunday and a small group on Wednesday. He wants ALL of you. Surrender in all other areas of life is perceived as a loss or failure, but in Christ… Surrender is the only path to lasting victory.
Look inside yourself today brother or sister and reflect on how your life Glorifies God. Get rid of those things that dishonor Him, and learn to hate what He hates. Do this and your prayer life will ascend to new levels and you will begin to clearly hear the words of God and His will for your life.
Stay Strong & Stand Tall