Six Obstacles to Answered Prayers

Life often puts barriers in front of our hopes and plans, and we cannot see why we do not move forward with projects, opportunities, or dreams. I have considered the reasons that I have seemed stuck in life, have not received answers to prayers, have not been able to travel, or have not been able to speak as I once did. I have observed six kinds of obstacles. Let’s examine each kind that could block each one of us.

Sin

Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your persistent wrongdoing has come between you and your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Deuteronomy 28:23 tells us “the heavens over your head shall be brass,” because of disobedience. Confession of sin is critical to moving forward.

Warfare

In Dan 9-10, what I call the “Danielic Block,” reveals spiritual warfare. The Prince of Persia (a leader of the demons) had opposed Michael the Archangel in Michael’s delivering the answer to Daniel’s prayers. Daniel had to wait awhile for the warfare to stop in order to receive God’s answer.

Placement

Sometimes the obstacle may seem like warfare, but God has a greater place for us to minister or a better answer to our prayers. What I call the “Pauline Blockage” (Ac 16:6-7), occurred when the Holy Spirit did not permit Paul and his friends to go to Asia. Instead, Paul and his team went to Philippi. Although Paul and Silas were obedient to go and preach in Macedonia, they experienced hardship, even being put in prison. This can sometimes make us wonder if we have heard the Lord correctly. However, while in prison in Philippi (16:25-30), Paul and Silas had doors of ministry open—not only to the prisoners—but to the entire region of Macedonia (Acts 16; 2 Cor 8:1-9:5).

Timing

The Lord may delay the timing. We may need to wait. Waiting presents one of the hardest parts of our ministries and plans. However, while waiting, we can listen for God’s voice and let Him change our hearts to agree with His timing.

Preparation

My former pastor Rob Zinn, at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Bernardino, once preached that “wait” means that the Lord is preparing the person (us), the place, and other people. The Lord knows what preparations need to happen for the best opportunities.

Protection

Moving forward too soon may put us in danger. The Lord may block the move to protect us.

While we wait for God to remove the obstacles, we should pray and wait with anticipation and patience. Galatians 5:23 says we have all the patience we need, but we have to exercise it. Second Peter 1:3-4 tells us that we have all we need for life and godliness and that through these things we can gain true knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and excellence. Let us wait patiently on the Lord for we know that as we wait, He will renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31).


Dr. Sharon L. Gresham (MA Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; PhD, B. H. Carroll Theological Institute) is a Resident Fellow and teaches “Christian Disciplines,” "The Letter of James," and "The Johannine Letters." Her PhD studies center upon the New Testament, particularly in the Epistle of James. She and her husband Benny of fifty-two years have ministered to churches in the United States, Guam, and South Korea. They are the proud parents of two married adults and grandparents of seven. Sharon is the founding director of the Carroll Prayer Network as well as the founder and director of Ashes to Crowns Ministries.

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