When someone prays to God,
what could possibly hinder that prayer? You might be able to
come up with lots of answers like: distractions, illness, and
certainly, sin hinders prayer. How else are prayers hindered?
The apostle Peter mentions some specific hindrances to prayer
that we would do well to consider. Let's study this verse:
“Likewise, you husbands, dwell with [your wife] according to knowledge, giving
honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being
heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not
hindered.” (1Pet 3:7) What does it mean, “that
your prayers be not hindered”?
The word, "dwell," means more than to live under the same roof. Dwell, has the
connotation of companionship, unity, and complete togetherness.
We are reminded of the "oneness" of the marriage relationship –
like in Ephesians 5:30 where we
read that we are members of Christ's body, of His
flesh, and of His bones. Let’s recognize the obvious
reference to the new covenant marriage of Christ and the Church
brethren, because there is a pattern here that we need to understand.
A good marriage is a beautiful thing – a Godly thing with
deep and transcendent meaning for the entire Church of God.
That is why it is so important to continuously build on our
marriages all of our lives. A good marriage is a close, unified
relationship between a man and a woman. It was God who
instituted the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, and
He brought about the marriage covenant for a vitally important reason.
God uses the intimacy and love between a man and his wife to
reflect the deeply spiritual relationship between Jesus
Christ and His Bride to be – the people of God. The apostle
Peter explains that our eternal life depends, not only on our
relationship with God, but also on how we relate to our spouse,
and as we will see, how we relate with our Church brethren as well.
God intends that a married
couple enter into the Kingdom of God together. That is what
Peter means by, “being heirs together of the grace of
life.” Discord or conflict within a marriage impairs, not
only the relationship between husband and wife, but also
obstructs and frustrates a right spiritual relationship with
God. Peter continues, “Finally, be you all of one mind,
having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful,
be courteous.” (1Peter 3:8)
God intends, and expects that marriage be the epitome of perfect oneness and unity. A
serious marital problem arises when a husband and wife can no
longer share their deepest feelings and heartfelt concerns with
one another in an empathic way. They are no longer of one mind,
and their prayers to God are not in harmony. Then, an untenable
situation comes about when the individual partners assert their
reconciliation with God, but not with each other.
A person’s prayers are, therefore, hindered, frustrated, and cut-off from God – there is
a spiritual disconnection from God – because the individual
parties are, in effect, asking God to bless only a part
of a marriage that should be unified, but is not.
The oneness of that marital union is strained to the breaking point, and God cannot
and will not bless that kind of discord because the primary
unity of the marriage is not there. Paul applied the same
concept to the Church brethren as we see Peter telling
the husbands: “Now I beg of you, brethren, by the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and
that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment.” (1Corinthians 1:10)
Whether we are speaking of the husband and wife relationship, or the relationship of Christ
and the Church brethren, the principal is the same. When there
is conflict, we are in
danger of not being heirs together
of the Kingdom of God. Peter’s point is that when the
intended unity and oneness of a marriage relationship breaks
down, the parties become estranged from one another and then
lack the oneness and togetherness of heart, mind, and spirit to
be heirs together of the grace of life.
It is the same situation with the Body of Christ – the Church. Our prayers to God are
not right when our rapport with other brethren is not right.
Can we pray and ask God to disregard a part of the Body
of Christ? No, we cannot. It is confusion. If a man say, I
love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that does
not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love
God whom he has not seen? (1John 4:20)
In the same way that a
husband and wife are meant to be heirs together of the
grace of life, all members of the Church of God are meant to
be heirs together of the grace of life.
“The Spirit itself
beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of
God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and
joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him,
that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17)
“Being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs
according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)
The husband is the head of
the wife – who is the weaker vessel. That is also an exact
picture of the Church of God. Jesus is the head of the Church –
we know that. But do we realize that we – the Church brethren –
are the weaker vessel? And yet, Jesus has made
it possible for us to be joint-heirs with Him of the Kingdom of
God – by laying down His life for us.
Prayers are hindered in a conflicted marriage, and in the exact same way, an offense
between Church brethren hinders a right relationship with
God. Let’s keep the big picture here. The Bride that Christ is
going to marry will be made up of all the reconciled brethren in
the Church – those reconciled to each other.
The Bride that Christ marries will have learned to make peace and reconciliation a way
of life. That is why it is so necessary at this time for
husbands and wives to learn how to live together in love and harmony.
|| "Hindered Prayer"