Hindrance to Prayer

In Genesis, God calls Abraham out of his homeland and takes him to his promised land. Following the words of God, he takes that journey. However, we see that he never settles in any place. In the journey, God renews and affirms Abraham of His promises.

August 15, 2022

An Altar:

In Genesis, God calls Abraham out of his homeland and takes him to his promised land. Following the words of God, he takes that journey. However, we see that he never settles in any place. In the journey, God renews and affirms Abraham of His promises. As a response to hearing the word of God, he builds altars in all those places. Thus, the bible records that Abraham built an altar in Shechem, in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12.6), east of Bethel (Genesis 12.7, 13.4), Hebron (Genesis 13.18), and the land of Moriah (Genesis 22.9). An altar is a place where one offers a sacrifice to demonstrate honour for God. Coincidently, when we read the accounts of Issac and Jacob, the generations of Abraham, we see that they had supernatural experiences in the same places. For instance, Issac reaped a hundredfold and could find water in every well he dug in the land of Gerar, which is in Canaan (Genesis 26). Likewise, when he was running from his brother Esau, Jacob experienced God’s mighty presence in Bethel (Genesis 28). Wherever Abraham had built an altar, it was a blessing for Isaac and Jacob whenever they returned to that place.

In the new covenant, we don’t build altars for God because we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. However, we need to activate the altars. And prayer is the key that activates God’s altar in our lives. Thus, our prayers become a blessing for us and for our children and their children’s children. Whenever we spend in prayer, we are releasing blessings that follow many generations. It might take decades for us to understand what God was doing through our prayers. But prayers are potent weapons that can help us win battles for generations.

Prayer is not a waste of time.

This is true for us as well. We are eating the fruit of our parent’s labour today. Every sacrifice they made was a seed sown for their children to reap the harvest. We live in a golden age where Christianity is exploding like wildfire in India. We are no more waiting to receive missionaries from abroad and preach the gospel but are sending missionaries from India to reach out to the world. Every time that we pray, fellowship together, or sow money in the Kingdom, God multiplies and gives it back. It could be our early morning devotions where we struggle to get out of our comfortable beds just to spend time with God. Know that through our prayers, God is moving mightily in this nation, yielding a great harvest for the kingdom. We may not see it in the immediate future, but God has planned it for the next generations.

The biggest hindrance to our prayers:

Our prayers do not yield expected results because we often become the stumbling block to our prayers. We spend hours putting our requests to God, but with our tongue, we block the answers to our prayers. The devil recognizes this weakness and amplifies it to his advantage.

If we carefully reflect, we will understand that most of the things we speak are not aligned with our prayers. We pray powerful spiritual prayers, but soon after, we talk, magnifying the problems and circumstances. This does not explicitly mean we use bad words. Nevertheless, we thank God for his blessing, but in our conversations with people around we doubt if God would bless us. Thus, we are ensnared by our own words.

Proverbs 18: 20 (ESV) – From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied, he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

Our stomach is not satisfied with the fruit of our hand’s work. We do not work to feed ourselves because God feeds us. We work to feed others. In other words, we work to be a blessing to others. Fruit of the mouth is the words that we speak. We need to check our words to keep our stomachs satisfied.

Proverbs 18: 21 (ESV) – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Our tongue carries the power of life and death, so we must use it wisely. When we complain and grumble, unknowingly, we create the wrong circumstances. For instance, when we say, ‘Nothing good can happen with me’, ‘Everbody hates me’, ‘My parents don’t care about me’, our experiences of life amplifies whatever we spoke. We may want to blame people, circumstances, or even God for the same, but it is us getting trapped by our own words.

Evidence of maturity:

1 Corinthians 13: 11 (ESV) – When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

The classic way to judge a person’s maturity is by their words. Our maturity is identified by how we speak. Imagine, in Genesis 1, if God said what He saw, things would have been different. The earth was void, formless, and dark, and if God spoke, ‘Oh, it’s so dark!’, the earth would have become even darker. This is because God’s words have the power to form reality. Therefore, God does not speak what He sees. He says what He wants to see. In most instances, we only talk about what our physical eyes can see.

1 Corinthians 13: 9 (ESV) – For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

Since we lack a complete picture, we judge based on our understanding of the situation and speak about it. There is no change in our life as our words were based on partial reality. Effective prayers are the ones that lead to change in our hearts. We probably would have started our prayer with complaints, but we need to encounter God by the end. However, if our prayer is still ending in complaints and grumbling, then we need to check whom we encountered in our prayer. The evidence of our spiritual maturity is the words we speak. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Matthew 12: 34 (b) (ESV) – For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

What is inside is what will come out. We can pretend for a while and speak polished words, but if we have filth inside, it will surely come out.

One’s tongue exposes oneself.

Lesson from Samson:

Samson destroyed his destiny because he did not know when to keep quiet. He fell into the trap of Delilah because he failed to keep things between him and God to himself. He did not know how to guard his mouth; therefore, he lost his life. We need to know when to keep quiet and when to talk.

James 3: 3-6 (ESV) – If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

If we don’t like the direction where life is taking us, we need to change the words we speak. Our life will move in the direction of the words that we speak. The devil loves to see us contradict our words of faith. Thus, we cancel out our prayers. We can delay God’s promise over our lives by speaking words that elevate problems and circumstances. Through prayers for the renewal of mind and change in our words, we can navigate our life according to the will of God.

Be mindful of the Words:

Numbers 14: 26-28 (ESV) – And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you:

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land. But they began to grumble even before the journey began. God is listening to us and says Amen to that which we believe. We see because of the grumbling, the journey to the promised land was delayed by 40 years for the Israelites. They spoke death and received it. Like God,even our words have the power to create and destroy. If we speak evil about someone, they will be evil to us. And the one who suffers will be us.

James 1: 26 (ESV) – If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Proverbs 13: 3 (ESV) – Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Psalms 39: 1 (ESV) – I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”

Proverbs 25: 28 (ESV) – A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

The Word of God: a double-edged sword

Hebrews 4: 12 (ESV) – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The word ‘double-edged’ comes from the Greek word ‘Distomos,’ which means double-mouthed. The one side of the mouth is when God speaks, and the other is when we say what we have heard from the Lord. ‘Confession’ comes from the Greek word ‘Homologia’, which means to repeat what we have listened to or to echo. It’s not just enough for God to speak. We also have to speak what we have heard from Him. We need to open the scriptures and confess it because God has said it once, and now it’s our turn to speak and activate God’s words in our life. Thus, the Word will become our reality.

Romans 10: 17 (ESV) – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Irrespective of what impossible situation we are facing, it can be unemployment, financial crisis, a new responsibility at work, or a new season, we have to speak the Word of God. If we want to speak what God is speaking into our lives, we must hear Him first. A simple way to know what God is saying is by asking Him.

The Source of our hearing matters.

The same God who saw darkness but spoke light and brought light has the answer to all of our problems. And when we hear what God says, we are responsible for confessing it with our mouths. Then things will change because God’s words are spoken through us. The word of God is already spoken, and when we agree with it and say it aloud, it brings it into effect. By confessing the Word of God, we are responding to the person of the Word. Never forget that the scriptures that we hear are not concepts. Instead, when we are listening to the Word, we are listening to the person of Christ.

Imagine when two people meet over a coffee and if only one person speaks while the other stares, there is no communication. Similarly, the Word of God is a person. We need to learn to respond to what He is speaking. Because as we respond through our confessions and declarations, the Spirit of God is released over our circumstances.

Joshua 1: 8 (ESV) – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

We need to meditate on God’s word till it does not depart from our mouth. We walk by faith, not by sight. So if God has spoken a Word over us irrespective of what we see in the physical, we need to keep confessing it. That Word has the power to change our circumstances. We need to learn to meditate on God’s words, not just intellectually. We need to speak the Word out boldly. Faith without works is dead (James 2: 17). And one of those works is confessing God’s words. Through confession, our faith becomes alive.


Our speech is dependent on what we have heard. If we are not speaking God’s Word, it clearly means we are not hearing God’s Word. We need to choose the right people who will speak into our lives. If we hear from a wrong source, we will speak from it too. Eve sinned even before she ate from the tree. Instead of speaking what she knew about God the Father, she responded to the devil based on what the devil spoke to her. Let us understand this in length.

Genesis 3: 1 (ESV) – Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Here we see the devil addresses God as God, which comes from the Hebrew word ‘Elohim’. The meaning of Elohim is Almighty, All-Powerful. Though God is Elohim, He had introduced himself to Adam and Eve as “Lord God”, translated as ‘Yahweh Elohim’ in Hebrew. As Yahweh Elohim, He calls humankind to have a relationship with them. He introduced Himself as the family to let Adam and Eve know they belonged to Him. The devil deceivingly disconnects the relational part while talking to Eve, and she fails to recognise this trap. The devil did not want Eve to be aware of her relationship with God.

Genesis 3: 2 (ESV) – And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

For instance, if we had to ask the president’s son about his availability. The son would not say, “The president is not available on Sundays.” Instead, the child would say, “Papa is unavailable on Sundays.” To the son, he is the father first and then the president. However, in Eve’s response to the devil, we see she is disconnected from her relationship with God. She heard what the devil spoke to her and repeated the same.

We speak what we hear.

If we constantly listen to filth, negative things, or diseases, our life will reflect the same. Therefore, in this time and age where media captures minds from every corner, we must make sure we listen to the scriptures. There are more promises in the Word than what’s happening worldwide. We shouldn’t be ignorant of what’s happening in the world, but we need to drown ourselves in God’s Word more than the realities of the world.

The word ‘Fear Not’ is mentioned in the Bible 365 times, and we still are afraid. In the church, fear is one of those sins that we are comfortable with. We discuss adultery and sexual immorality, but we do not discuss fear as one of the greatest sins. When we say we are afraid of something and are okay with it, we are in unbelief of God’s word. Any commandment that God gives is a promise. When God has commanded us not to be afraid, He has empowered us not to be afraid.

Combination Lock:

To enjoy an effective and efficient Christian life, we need to know how to open the supernatural combination lock. We cannot just have a few right dials and wait for the lock to open. We need to have all the dials in the right place. Similarly, the combination of meditating on God’s Word, confessing the same, and spending time in prayer will unlock the next degree of glory that God has for us. It’s the combination of the ministry of the Word and the ministry of the Spirit that helps us to endure.

Sharing our deepest:

We need to be careful with whom we share our vulnerability. If the person we share with does not have the maturity to handle our life’s toxicity, it can cause collateral damage.

Example of a family affair:

Imagine a husband and wife having an argument. The husband confided in his unmarried younger brother. The brother carelessly spoke to the mother, who later shared it with the father. Now the conflict has affected the entire family. The husband and wife reconciled within a few hours, but the rest of the family members were still hurt. Married people should refrain from sharing their issues of married life with the singles as they would not be helpful for either. Instead, the immaturity of single people could hinder their purpose in marriage. When we need help, we need to get it from the right channel, thus showing we are functioning in the wisdom of God.

Our battles should be private. We need to be sensitive and alert when we become vulnerable to people. Either the person will only affirm us or speak life into us. We have a lot of friends who will agree with anything and everything. If one kills a person, the other will affirm it. That’s why we need to be wise when we share our toxic issues.

Asking oneself questions like: Can the person bear my toxicity, how have they responded to me in the past?

Finding Paul and Timothy:

In church, when we do something for someone and do not receive the same from them in return, we refrain from doing the same again. This means we engaged with the other person in a transactional relationship. Instead, when we engage with people, we do it because we are blessed, and we can bless others. Therefore, it is absolutely fine if that person does not reciprocate the same way.

The church is not a community. The church is about the Kingdom. It is the Ecclesia of God. Ecclesia means the legislative assembly of God that determines what needs to be done on earth. We can surely find a community here in the assembly, which would be an overflow of what we have, but the church is not a community. Most churches have become stagnant because we have limited them to being just a community. They are bickering and falling apart. We can have communities and families in the church, but more than that, the church is about the Kingdom being established. If we are placed in a church, we are there for a purpose. We need to find that purpose and find the people who can journey with us in that purpose. We need the right people for this journey who can take our toxicity and bless us. If it’s the other way around, we might end up hurting the other person with our toxicity.

We need to find our Paul in our community. Our Paul need not necessarily be the Pastor. Paul would be that person who can listen to our toxicity, speak life into us and correct us. And as much as we need a Paul, we need a Timothy whose toxicity we can take in and speak life over them. We need to find our community where we can be authentic and vulnerable. It’s not the Pastor’s burden to find a community for us. The responsibility of the Pastor is to feed us our spiritual food. If we need a community, a friend- a Paul, or a Timothy, then we need to take the initiative to build relationships.

Conflicts and divisions: Sanctification of tongue:

Most of the things that happen in churches and families are because we don’t have control over our tongue. The people do not deal the issues with the right people- they talk behind the back or make lifeless judgements about one another. Remember, our words have power.

Acts 2: 1-4 (ESV) – When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Holy Spirit comes in the form of tongues of fire. This tongue that we eat the fruit of, God wants to sanctify it first. We eat what we speak. Our tongue is powerful. God has sanctified it. And this day onwards, we should be careful how we use it. We will be accountable for every idle word that comes out of our mouths. We might not intend to hurt anyone, but if we have not learned to deal with our toxicity, then it can become troublesome. For instance, parents, after a busy day at work, release their toxicity over their children. Later they wonder why the prayers for the child are unanswered. This is because they have unknowingly hindered the child’s future using their idle words. We need to ask the Lord to sanctify our tongues so that we speak what the Lord speaks, the words of life and not death.

Inheritance in words:

Jacob left his father’s house with no material wealth but with a huge spiritual inheritance from his father as words of blessings. In other words, though Jacon received no property, gold or silver, and had nothing, he had everything he needed to be successful and prosperous in Issac’s words. These people understood that words were not just words but that they carried inheritance.

Words carry inheritance.

In the Bible, we see Jacob hearing from the Lord after he received the words of blessings from Issac. It was the words of Issac which were released over Jacob that unlocked the blessing of hearing from the Lord.

John 6: 63 (ESV) – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

If we all want to be like Jesus, we need to hear what He is saying and then speak. Some of us don’t have any filter in our minds, and we just speak what we think. Our mind’s function is to filter the words we speak and only release the good that we need to speak. One of the practical ways of speaking God’s word is through thanksgiving. Irrespective of whether we feel grateful or not, when we start giving thanks in our prayers, we are aligning ourselves to the reality of God’s Kingdom. Our words begin to align with God’s character. Our words have the capacity to change our hearts. And when we give thanks to the Lord, the Word of God becomes active in our lives.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

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