Hindered Prayer

Dear Brethren,

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.


Sermon: "Hindered Prayer"