Hindrances to prayers:
The fact that we pray to divinity does not distinguish us from the rest humanity that pray infact from scriptures we know that pagans prayed evil men prayed . From living in our time we are aware that Buddists Hindus and Muslims pray, Yes sinners also pray in distress..
What makes prayers worth our while is the fact that they are effective and get us the results we wish for in our attempts .
Israelites faced a very difficult time in exile as Isaiah writes in this face of his book
Isa 59:1-8 -
The prophet here rectifies the mistake of those who had been quarrelling with God because they had not the deliverances wrought for them which they had been often fasting and praying for, Isa_58:3. Now here he shows,
That it was not owing to God. They had no reason to lay the fault upon him that they were not saved out of the hands of their enemies; for,
1. He was still as able to help as ever: His hand is not shortened, his power is not at all lessened, straitened, or abridged.
2. He was still as ready and willing to help as ever in answer to prayer: His ear is not heavy, that it cannot hear. Though he has many prayers to hear and answer, and though he has been long hearing prayer, yet he is still as ready to hear prayer as ever. The prayer of the upright is as much his delight as ever it was, and the promises which are pleaded and put in suit in prayer are still yea and amen, inviolably sure.
If your prayers be not answered, and the salvation we wait for be not wrought for us, it is not because God is weary of hearing prayer, but because we are weary of praying, not because his ear is heavy when we speak to him, but because our ears are heavy when he speaks to us.
II. That it was owing to themselves; they stood in their own light and put a bar in their own door. God was coming towards them in ways of mercy and they hindered him. Your iniquities have kept good things from you, Jer_5:25.
1. See what mischief sin does.
(1.) It hinders God's mercies from coming down upon us; it is a partition wall that separates between us and God.
Sin hides his face from us (which denotes great displeasure, Deu_31:17); it provokes him in anger to withdraw his gracious presence, to suspend the tokens of his favour and the instances of his help; he hides his face, as refusing to be seen or spoken with. See here sin in its colours, sin exceedingly sinful, withdrawing the creature from his allegiance to his Creator; and see sin in its consequences, sin exceedingly hurtful, separating us from God, and so separating us not only from all good, but to all evil (Deu_29:21), which is the very quintessence of the curse.
(2.) It hinders our prayers from coming up unto God; it provokes him to hide his face, that he will not hear, as he has said, Isa_1:15. If we regard iniquity in our heart, if we indulge it and allow ourselves in it, God will not hear our prayers, Psa_66:18. We cannot expect that he should countenance us while we go on to affront him.
2. Now, to justify God in hiding his face from them, and proceeding in his controversy with them, the prophet shows very largely, in the following verses, how many and great their iniquities were, according to the charge given him (Isa_58:1), to show God's people their transgressions; and it is a black bill of indictment that is here drawn up against them, consisting of many particulars, any one of which was enough to separate between them and a just and a holy God. Let us endeavour to reduce these articles of impeachment to proper heads.
(1.) We must begin with their thoughts, for there all sin begins, and thence it takes its rise: Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Isa_59:7. Their imaginations are so, only evil continually.
[1.] At the best it is about that which is foolish and frivolous. Their thoughts are vain, like weaving the spider's web, which the poor silly animal takes a great deal of pains about, and, when all is done, it is a weak insignificant thing, a reproach to the place where it is, and which the besom sweeps away in an instant:
[2.] Too often it is about that which is malicious and spiteful. They hatch the eggs of the cockatrice or adder, which are poisonous and produce venomous creatures; such are the thoughts of the wicked who delight in doing mischief. He that eats of their eggs (that is, he is in danger of having some mischief or other done him), and that which is crushed in order to be eaten of, or which begins to be hatched and you promise yourself some useful fowl from it, breaks out into a viper, which you meddle with at your peril. Happy are those that have least to do with such men. Even the spider's web which they wove was woven with a spiteful design to catch flies in and make a prey of them; for, rather than not be doing mischief, they will play at small game.
(2.) Out of this abundance of wickedness in the heart their mouth speaks, and yet it does not always speak out the wickedness that is within, but, for the more effectually compassing the mischievous design, it is dissembled and covered with much fair speech (Isa_59:3): Your lips have spoken lies; and again (Isa_59:4), They speak lies, pretending kindness where they intend the greatest mischief; or by slanders and false accusations they blasted the credit and reputation of those they had a spite to and so did them a real mischief unseen, and perhaps by suborning witnesses against them took from them their estates and lives; for a false tongue is sharp arrows, and coals of juniper, and every thing that is mischievous. Your tongue has muttered perverseness. When they could not, for shame, speak their malice against their neighbours aloud, or durst not, for fear of being disproved and put to confusion, they muttered it secretly. Backbiters are called whisperers.
(3.) Their actions were all of a piece with their thoughts and words. They were guilty of shedding innocent blood, a crime of the most heinous nature: Your hands are defiled with blood (Isa_59:3); for blood is defiling; it leaves an indelible stain of guilt upon the conscience, which nothing but the blood of Christ can cleanse it from. Now was this a case of surprise, or one that occurred when there was something of a force put upon them; but (Isa_59:7) their feet ran to this evil, naturally and eagerly, and, hurried on by the impetus of their malice and revenge, they made haste to shed innocent blood, as if they were afraid of losing an opportunity to do a barbarous thing, Pro_1:16; Jer_22:17. Wasting and destruction are in their paths. Wherever they go they carry mischief along with them, and the tendency of their way is to lay waste and destroy, nor do they care what havoc they make. Nor do they only thirst after blood, but with other iniquities are their fingers defiled (Isa_59:3); they wrong people in their estates and make every thing their own that they can lay their hands on. They trust in vanity (Isa_59:4); they depend upon their arts of cozenage to enrich themselves with, which will prove vanity to them, and their deceiving others will but deceive themselves. Their works, which they take so much pains about and have their hearts so much upon, are all works of iniquity; their whole business is one continued course of oppressions and vexations, and the act of violence is in their hands, according to the arts of violence that are in their heads and the thoughts of violence in their hearts.
(4.) No methods are taken to redress these grievances, and reform these abuses (Isa_59:4): None calls for justice, none complains of the violation of the sacred laws of justice, nor seeks to right those that suffer wrong or to get the laws put in execution against vice and profaneness, and those lewd practices which are the shame, and threaten to be the bane, of the nation.
Note, When justice is not done there is blame to be laid not only upon the magistrates that should administer justice, but upon the people that should call for it.
Private persons ought to contribute to the public good by discovering secret wickedness, and giving those an opportunity to punish it that have the power of doing so in their hands; but it is ill with a state when princes rule ill and the people love to have it so. Truth is opposed, and there is not any that pleads for it, not any that has the conscience and courage to appear in defence of an honest cause, and confront a prosperous fraud and wrong.
The way of peace is as little regarded as the way of truth; they know it not, that is, they never study the things that make for peace, no care is taken to prevent or punish the breaches of the peace and to accommodate matters in difference among neighbours; they are utter strangers to every thing that looks quiet and peaceable, and affect that which is blustering and turbulent.
(5.) In all this they act foolishly, very foolishly, and as much against their interest as against reason and equity. Those that practise iniquity trust in vanity, which will certainly deceive them, Isa_59:4. Their webs, which they weave with so much art and industry, shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves, either for shelter or for ornament, with their works, Isa_59:6. They may do hurt to others with their projects, but can never do any real service or kindness to themselves by them. There is nothing to be got by sin, and so it will appear when profit and loss come to be compared.
In the gospels we see the Lord on the final day/ the night in which he was betrayed he invited the disciples to pray to the father and showed them how to do that well.
The blessed privilege which those have that abide in Christ (Joh_15:7): If my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will of my Father in my name, and it shall be done. See here, [1.] How our union with Christ is maintained - by the word: If you abide in me; he had said before, and I in you; here he explains himself, and my words abide in you; for it is in the word that Christ is set before us, and offered to us, Rom_10:6-8. It is in the word that we receive and embrace him; and so where the word of Christ dwells richly there Christ dwells. If the word be our constant guide and monitor, if it be in us as at home, then we abide in Christ, and he in us. [2.] How our communion with Christ is maintained - by prayer: You shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you. And what can we desire more than to have what we will for the asking? Note, Those that abide in Christ as their heart's delight shall have, through Christ, their heart's desire. If we have Christ, we shall want nothing that is good for us. Two things are implied in this promise: - First, That if we abide in Christ, and his word in us, we shall not ask any thing but what is proper to be done for us. The promises abiding in us lie ready to be turned into prayers; and the prayers so regulated cannot but speed. Secondly, That if we abide in Christ and his word we shall have such an interest in God's favour and Christ's mediation that we shall have an answer of peace to all our prayers.
[3.] His love to them appeared in the interest they had at the throne of grace: Whatsoever you shall ask of my Father, in my name, he will give it you.
Probably this refers in the first place to the power of working miracles which the apostles were clothed with, which was to be drawn out by prayer. “Whatever gifts are necessary to the furtherance of your labours, whatever help from heaven you have occasion for at any time, it is but ask and have.”
Three things are here hinted to us for our encouragement in prayer, and very encouraging they are.
First, That we have a God to go to who is a Father; Christ here calls him the Father, both mine and yours; and the Spirit in the word and in the heart teaches us to cry, Abba, Father.
Secondly, That we come in a good name. Whatever errand we come upon to the throne of grace according to God's will, we may with a humble boldness mention Christ's name in it, and plead that we are related to him, and he is concerned for us.
Thirdly, That an answer of peace is promised us. What you come for shall be given you. This great promise made to that great duty keeps up a comfortable and gainful intercourse between heaven and earth.