For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3:12 (NIV)
Many people are convinced that God will hear any prayer offered by any person in any way at any time in any circumstance. But the Bible makes it very clear that there are circumstances in which God chooses not to hear prayer.
Jesus taught, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). The principle is very clear: there is no effective praying without right living.
David also recognized that if we want God to hear our prayers, then there is a path of right living that we must pursue. When he cried out to the Lord, he realized, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psa. 66:18).
This does not mean you must be perfect before God hears you. If that were the case, God would never hear any of our prayers. God does listen to the prayers of sinners, but He does not listen to the prayers of those who hold onto and cherish their sin.
Think about it: When God says, “I will not listen,” that means it is possible to spend an hour in prayer, or a day on a retreat, and achieve absolutely nothing of lasting spiritual value.
If we are to pray effectively, we need to make sure that nothing hinders our prayers. God has made us a kingdom of priests. But what use, in this world, are a kingdom of priests whose prayers are never heard? If we want to live in such a way that highly resistant people will come to glorify God, then we need to act redemptively and pray effectively.
Is anything in your life or your relationships hindering your prayers?