The greatest prayer then fully expressed, sweeps first the whole field of action, then touches the heart of the action, and then attacks the opposition. It is this:—Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done: deliver us from the evil one. Every true prayer ever offered comes under this simple comprehensive prayer. It may be offered, it is offered with an infinite variety of detail. It is greatest because of its sweep. It includes all other petitions, for God’s will includes everything for which prayer is rightly offered. It is greatest in its intensity. It hits the very bull’s-eye of opposition to God.
II. Hindrances to Prayer
1. Why the Results Fail. 2. Why the Results Are Delayed. 3. The Great Outside Hindrance, or, the Relation of Prayer to Satan.
Why the Results Fail
Breaking with God.
God answers prayer. Prayer is God and man joining hands to secure some high end. He joins with us through the communication of prayer in accomplishing certain great results. This is the main drive of prayer. Our asking and expecting and God’s doing jointly bring to pass things that otherwise would not come to pass. Prayer changes things. This is the great fact of prayer.
Yet a great many prayers are not answered. Or, to put it more accurately, a great many prayers fail utterly of accomplishing any results. Probably it is accurate to say that thousands of prayers go up and bring nothing down. This is certainly true. Let us say it just as bluntly and plainly as it can be said. As a result many persons are saying: “Well, prayer is not what you claim for it: we prayed and no answer came: nothing was changed.”
From all sorts of circles, and in all sorts of language comes this statement. Scholarly men who write with wisdom’s words, and thoughtless people whose thinking never even pricks the skin of the subject, and all sorts of people in between group themselves together here. And they are right, quite right. The bother is that what they say is not all there is to be said. There is yet more to be said, that is right too, and that changes the final conclusion radically. Partial truth is a very mean sort of lie.
The prayer plan like many another has been much disturbed, and often broken. And one who would be a partner with God up to the limit of his power must understand the things that hinder the prayer plan. There are three sorts of hindrances to prayer. First of all there are things in us that break off connection with God, the source of the changing power. Then there are certain things in us that delay, or diminish the results; that interfere with the full swing of the prayer plan of operations. And then there is a great outside hindrance to be reckoned upon. To-day we want to talk together of the first of these, namely, the hindrances that break off connections between God and His human partner.