The passage where Jesus was teaching the disciples how they ought to pray is very dear to our hearts. We know that we should always pray for God's will to be done.....but far too often our own desires get in the way, don't they? Then we end up praying for OUR will to be done, rather than seeking God's will.
Far too often we may think God is not listening because we do not see the answer to our prayers. There are three things that hinder the effectiveness of our prayer. The first is sin in our lives. Unconfessed sin, whether out in the open or hidden deep within our hearts, creates a barrier between us and our loving Heavenly Father. We have to search our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, and our actions to see if there is any hidden sin we have not surrendered to Him if we truly want our prayers to be effective. Remember James tells us:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
The second barrier to effective prayer is our own desires. Effective prayer does not mean to imply that we will always get every answer we want.
We think we know how this should work out, and what we want the Lord to do in response to our prayer.
But we know our ways are not God's ways, and our thoughts are not like His.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God does not exist merely to grant all our wishes, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.
We have to learn to surrender our own desires to His will, in every circumstance.
Jesus, even in facing the agony and disgrace of death on the cross. prayed for God's will to be done:
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will,
but as thou wilt. (Matt. 26:39)
The last thing that often hinders effective prayer is time. We want an answer now - we haven't learned to wait upon the Lord. Our time is very limited, so we feel pressure to hurry up and act. That pressure or need to act fast often leads us into taking matters into our own hands, which seldom helps in any way. All it does is cause us to miss God's will by seeking our own.
Or sometimes, if we don't get an answer right away, we just give up. We haven't learned to wait upon the Lord, and perservere in prayer.
We feel disappointed that God hasn't answered us, and assume that He's simply not going to. This is a sin we need to confess, as it goes against everything
Scripture teaches us. It causes us to lose faith in God, and hinders not only our prayers, but our entire relationship with God. Our lack of faith makes it impossible to please God!
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
God is not bound by the constraints of time. He is the master of all eternity! He doesn't feel pressured to hurry up and act. His way is always the best, even if it is not what we would prefer. And His timing is always right, even though we may wish He'd hurry up! Sometimes the answer we seek may be delayed because God wants us to spend more time with Him, seeking His will and growing our relationship with Him.
If your prayers don't seem to be very effective, try spending some extra time with Him, not asking for anything, but instead searching His word, learning to surrender your own will, and acknowledging His goodness and Sovereignty. Repent of any unconfessed sin, including any feelings you may have of disappointment because He hasn't answered or doesn't seem to be listening.
Be consistent and persistant in your prayer.
Deepen your relationship with your Heavenly Father, and your prayer life will deepen, too!
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.