Ten Hindrances to Prayer - Part 3
This will wrap up our study on corporate prayer. At our last meeting, we looked at five hindrances to the prayer meeting. Before we look at the last five, consider some of these thoughts.
In order to effectively storm the gates of Heaven in prayer, we must first have the spirit (small s) and the Spirit (capital S) of prayer. Our hearts must be tuned to the One to whom we are praying. Prayer is not a one way street.
The Necessity of the Holy Spirit in the Prayer Meeting
We are told in Jude 20, " But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost . . . . " What is it to pray in the Holy Ghost? It is simply allowing the the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you as you pray. Corporate prayer is no good unless the power of corporate prayer is present. Therefore, our spirits must be adjusted to the Holy Spirit as He leads not only individuals, but the group in prayer.
Corporate prayer is not about many people praying with each other, but the uniting of many hearts with the Spirit of God. The church is one living organism, not many individuals.So the voice of the one living organism is the voice that must cry out for God during corporate prayer.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is always there, waiting for His children to come to Him. Even though the Spirit is always there, it may take time to develop a knowledge of His presence. The more you practice allowing the Holy Spirit to lead in prayer, the more you will sense His leading, and the more unity will be displayed.
The Necessity of the Holy Spirit in the Individual
We are told in Galatians 5:16 to walk in the Spirit. Verse 18 tells us that we must be led of the Spirit. We must first be walking in the Spirit before He can lead. We must be sensitive to the Spirit to either walk in Him or be led by Him. As we learn to walk in HIm, we can then be led by Him, but it does not stop there.Verse 25 continues, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." As we learn to walk in Him and be led by Him we form a new habit - living in the Spirit; that constant awareness of His presence in our lives which causes us to continue to walk in, be led, by and live in the Spirit. . . the cycle is meant to continue. As we live in His presence, the Holy Spirit will naturally flow through us uniting our prayers.
The Power of Corporate Prayer
Spiritual sensitivity grows as we experience corporate prayer led by the Holy Spirit Himself. The great revivalist Charles Finney once said, "Nothing is more calculated to beget a spirit of prayer than to unite in social prayer with one who has the Spirit himself. The Holy Spirit in Himself is contagious. Get around someone who is controlled by the Spirit and it will not be long until you desire Him too.
The Spirit of Corporate Prayer
There are benefits to corporate prayer. It was planned that way by God. As we pray in the power of the Holy Ghost we avoid aimless praying. When we pray in the flesh (and yes, it is easy to do, and happens quite often), our minds tend to wander. Ever been to a prayer meeting where it seems that someone is just rambling on? That is because they are. Spirit-led prayer will always be with purpose and direction.
Our prayer should flow. If the Holy Spirit is in charge He will guide your lips. This is not a time to be bashful and worry about using the right words. You are not praying to the others in attendance but to the God of the universe. He is the only One that matters at this particular moment in time.
Our prayer should inspire. The Holy Spirit is never negative. Even in tough times He is still the giver of joy and peace. If He is leading, He will inspire the meeting to continue to a higher level.
Our prayer should be focused on one subject at a time. God will give the topic, and successive prayers should build the level of faith. At the proper time, the Holy Spirit will change direction. These prayers may include elements of inspiration, revelation, desire, and agreement.
Hindrances to the Prayer Meeting
# 1 In Romans 14:23 we read, " And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Beware of striving prayers. These kinds of prayers add pride and energy to unbelief. The fact is that true faith is not being exhibited, but often this is a sign of jealousy of those that do have true faith. As the pray-er strives with God over matters, the tension he exhibits can rapidly spread from one to another. A little leaven is all it takes.
# 2 Cut out the intellectual prayers; those that are not of the Spirit, but rather are rehearsed. Matthew 6:7 tells us, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Just pour your heart out to God. Whatever amount of intelligence you possess was given to you by God. It is not of yourself, so quit be prideful with your big, theological, "holier than thou" terms. Just talk to God. He is the only One you need to impress.
# 3There is no place for "dead prayers" in the corporate prayer meeting. These kinds of prayers are close to the intellectual prayer, usually brought from the throat, but not the heart. Deuteronomy 4:29 could not be clearer - " But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."
# 4 Forget about personal, ambitious prayers. Personal prayers are not wrong, but drawing attention to yourself is. Paul warns of ambitious, prideful individuals through the example of Diotrephes in III John 9 and 10 - " I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth . . . ." Those that pray to be heard, to maintain their pubic image, or to impress the hearers should be eliminated. It is a simple matter to cut them off and the Holy Spirit is back in charge of the meeting. After a few times, they will get the message.
# 5 Then we have the uncooperative pray-ers, those who choose not to get involvedl.If not involved in prayer, they will be involved in something. Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." When at a prayer meeting, it is time to pray. Those leafing through the Bible, playing with a "gadget", or doodling on a piece of paper are out of line in the prayer meeting, and need to lovingly be corrected.
Trust the Promises of God
God's Word is filled with promises. I am told there are over 1,000 promises between Genesis and Revelation. The promises of God are meant to be claimed, and there is no place like the corporate prayer meeting to claim them. As they are spoken in agreement, God will certainly hear and reward the request. Be bold in your approach to the throne - not cocky, but bold. Dream big for the Lord. God delights to hear His children simply trust in what He has already promised to give them. By the way, God is still on the throne. So run to Him with your concerns and storm the gates of Heaven. Where two or three are gathered, He is in the midst.