In our time of today, we see more barriers being set up and used in our country. There are companies that make barriers that can be seen physically and electronic ones that cannot be seen with the naked eye. There are barriers set up at our college universities, private, and public schools to keep our students safe while attending classes. When we are traveling on roads such as expressways and local streets we might see barriers set up because of repair work that workers are doing on the road. If these road barriers are not set up on the roads to repair them, the drivers who drive on them could endanger of damaging their vehicles or worst losing their lives. We also see barriers set up in front of sports arenas, large financial institutions, and, government buildings. The barriers that are put in these places are for the purpose of security and safety of the people who come to them. The barriers at these places help to prevent some possible attacks from people who wish to cause harm to the buildings and those in attendance.
Barriers are not only used to help to prevent someone or something from getting into a place but barriers can be used to keep someone or something from getting out. As a human being we set up emotional barriers to keep people at a distance we feel we cannot trust. If we are dealing with unresolved issues in our lives, we will find it difficult to allow people who care for our well being to get close to us. Our emotional barriers will cause us to become prisoners to our past and afraid to allow ourselves vulnerable around others. Our emotional barriers will not only hinder our ability to love the way God commands us to but it can also cause our prayers from being answered. Now there are three types of barriers that can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered. The first type of barrier that can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered is the barrier of iniquity. The second type of barrier that can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered is the barrier of praying with the wrong motives. Finally, the third barrier which can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered is the barrier of unforgiveness.
Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me (Psalms 66:16-20).
The Barrier of Iniquity
The first type of barrier that can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered is the barrier of iniquity. Now the definition of the word regard according to Dictionary.com means “to look upon or think of with a particular feeling”. The definition of the word iniquity according to Holman Bible Dictionary means “lawlessness or sinful acts which are in opposition to God’s standard of righteousness”. When we put these two definitions together with Psalms 66:18, what the Psalmist was saying in his testimony to his listeners was that the Lord heard his prayer because he did not regard any type of sinful act more than God’s standard of righteousness. He realized that all of God blessings to the Children of Israel and his own life were a result of the Lord bringing them into a wealthy place. However, when we choose to regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not attend to the voice of our prayers. Our decision to regard some type of sinful act will cause the love of God to which was poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit to grow cold in our lives (Romans 5:8).
The word of God tells us that Jesus told His disciples that in the last days in Matthew 24:12, “that iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall grow cold”. What is the iniquity that you are regarding in your heart that is causing your prayers to be unanswered? The act of sin or iniquity that we regard can be something such as drunkenness, addiction or sexual immorality. It can also be something like uncontrolled anger which can cause harm to ourselves or to other people. It can also be a sinful act that is manifested as strife where you and I can be wrestling with it on the inside but is witnessed by others through a public outburst. Our desire for the Lord’s Presence has to be greater than the iniquity we have regarded and by His grace, we must surrender to Him. The word of God says in Psalms 51:2 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin”.The barrier of iniquity can only be removed by us having times of daily repentance and keeping our confession current with the Lord.
The Barrier of wrong motives
The second type of barrier that can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered is the barrier of praying with the wrong motives from our hearts. The definition of amiss according to Dictionary.com means “to be out of the right or proper course, it also means improperly, wrongly, or to go astray”. When we approach our prayer life from a self-centered way and not a kingdom centered way, our petitions that we make before the Lord will be lifted up with the wrong motives. Instead of us seeing our quiet place with the Father as the best time of our day that we would enjoy, we would see our prayer time as something that we are not interested in doing. There some people in the church because of their lack of maturity and growth view prayer as a time of asking God for the things that they want to have. When they are done praying for their fifteen minutes of telling the Lord what they would want, they never take the time to ask the Lord what He would want from their lives. The word of God says in James 4:2-3 “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”.
To be able to overcome the barrier of praying with the wrong motives means we must learn how to rightfully divide the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). When we pray the promise of God that we will delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our hearts, we must not pray that promise asking for our own personal desires to be fulfilled (Psalms 37:4). We must understand that this promise does not mean that we can pray for a job that we want but we are not truly qualified to have. We must not pray with the wrong motives asking the Lord to bless with a home but yet our credit is in bad shape and we cannot afford the mortgage payments. To overcome the barrier of praying with the wrong motives we must pray Psalms 37:4 asking the Lord to replace our desires with His desires. Our prayer to the Father should Lord break my heart with the things that break your heart and give me a passion for what is important to you. Dear Lord I am asking you to teach me how to be obedient to you and to trust you with all my heart. If Dear Lord as I trust and obey what you speak to me in your word, you have promised to provide me stability in my life and allow me to feed upon your faithfulness in Jesus name, Amen (Psalms 37:3).
The Barrier of unforgiveness
Finally, the third barrier which can hinder and prevent our prayers from being answered is the barrier of unforgiveness. Now the definition to forgive according to Dictionary.com means “to grant a pardon for or remission of an offense or a debt that a person owe”. It also means “to cease to feel resentment against or to cancel indebtedness”. If to forgive a person means these various things, then to decide not to forgive would mean to choose to hold onto one’s resentment, debt, or trespass toward another person. When we choose to have an unforgiving spirit and not to forgive others as Jesus commanded us in Mark 11:25-26, the Father will not forgive us our trespasses and sins. When we allow a barrier of unforgiveness to be in our prayer life, our unforgiveness can cause us to become a prisoner of our own prison which can be worse than any man-made cell. In Proverbs 18:19 the New Living Translation says that “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars”.
When we choose to hold onto unforgiveness in our lives we become just like those who are incarcerated in our federal and state prisons and juvenile detention centers. We lose our ability to experience God’s joy and peace because we have allowed the spirit of offense to become important than God’s grace and mercy. The barrier of unforgiveness can cause us to give people power over us in a way that was not supposed to have in our lives. Yes, what that person did to you my brother was wrong, they promised to be there for you but they abandoned you in your time of need. How that person mistreated you my sister was truly inappropriate and they should be held accountable for their actions. However, for me and you and me to overcome the barrier of unforgiveness means we must learn to forgive by God’s love and learn to move on to what the Lord has for us. Today is the day that we will no longer sentence ourselves to live on death row and walk down the halls of life as people yell out dead man or woman walking, The word of God says in 1 John 3:14-15 “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him”.