Prayers For Those That Are In Need
That Your Prayers May Not Be Hindered
You husbands wise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
In Peter’s first letter — that we have been focusing on since last September — Peter mentions prayer three times. What is remarkable about these three instances is that there is something common to each of them. Let me read them to you and see if you can detect the common thread running through each.
First, Peter has a word for husbands about prayer and their relationship with their wives:
You husbands wise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Second, in the very next paragraph he speaks to all believers (verse 8) about being brotherly and kindhearted and humble and (verse 9) not returning evil for evil but instead giving a blessing. Then to support these admonitions he quotes Psalm 34:
Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Pet 3:10–12)
Third, in 1 Peter 4:7, he says,The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer [literally: for the sake of prayers].
“Living right helps us pray.”
Now, what is the unusual common thread running through those three references to prayer? What struck me is that all three teach us not that praying helps us live right, but that living right helps us pray.
Now it’s true that praying is one of the ways God has appointed to help us live the way we should (see Colossians 1:9–10). But Peter’s point in every one of these texts is that it’s true the other way around: God has appointed a way for us to live which will help us pray.
There are ways to live that hinder prayer and there is a way to live that helps prayer.
Right Living Helps Our Praying
Let’s look at these similarities again and you ask this time: what is Peter telling us about how living helps praying?
How Husbands Live with Their Wives
The first one in 1 Peter 3:7 tells us husbands that there is a way to live with our wives that can clog our prayers, and a way to live with our wives that will help our prayers.
You husbands wise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
If you want your prayers to be helped and not hindered you have to live with your wife in a certain way. There has to be an effort to understand her so as to know her needs. There has to be a special solicitousness of her weaknesses and what she especially needs from you.
There has to be a recognition that she is a fellow heir of the grace of life and an accompanying bestowal of honor rather than any belittling or demeaning. When we husbands live this (with understanding, tender care, and honor), our prayers will not be hindered. If we do not live this, our prayers will be hindered.
Here’s the way one good commentary put it:
So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he “interrupts” his relationship with them when they are not doing so.
No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife “in an understanding way, bestowing honor” on her.To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight. (Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, 146)
There is a way to live with our wives that clogs our prayers and ruins our spiritual impact. And there is a way to live with our wives that frees our prayers and helps empower our spiritual impact.
How All Believers Live
Second, Peter goes on in verses 8 and 9 to call all of us, not just husbands, to be sympathetic, and brotherly and kindhearted and humble, and not to return evil for evil but to bless those who are unkind to us. Then he gives a reason for why we should live this.
It’s a quote from Psalm 34 and in verse 12 the reason comes to a climax with the same kind of argument as in 1 Peter 3:7, namely, prayers are hindered if you don’t live this way. God has a special openness to the prayers of those who pursue peace and whose lips are pure and who don’t use guile (deceit).
Verse 12: “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
God listens to the prayers of those who live this: keep the tongue from evil, refrain from guile, seek peace, do righteousness. So here again Peter is telling us how to keep our prayers from being hindered.
It’s the same thing Jesus was teaching in the Lord’s Prayer when he told us to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12). Not forgiving those who repent will clog our prayers. That’s Peter’s point too.
There is a way to live that hinders our prayers and a way to live that helps our prayers.
Special Endeavors We Can Make
Third, in 1 Peter 4:7 he says, that there are special endeavors we can make so that our prayers will be helped and not hindered:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the sake of prayers.
Two things: first, be of sound judgment for the sake of your prayers; second, be sober for the sake of your prayers. In other words, there is a way to think and live that will hinder your prayers and there is a way to think and live that will help your prayers.
The Truth from These Texts
So there is a doctrine — a biblical truth — that we can now state with great confidence from these texts: Christians must endeavor to live in a way that does not hinder their prayers. It has three parts:
It implies that prayers can be hindered. Our prayer life can be clogged, blocked.
What blocks prayer is often our lives — the way we live, the way we relate to wives or husbands or kids or parents or colleagues or neighbors.
Opening the way of prayer to God involves a conscious endeavor. In each of these texts Peter is telling us to resolve to do something so that our prayers will not be hindered.
“A free, open, real, satisfying life of prayer is not automatic.”
In other words, a free, open, real, satisfying life of prayer is not automatic. It doesn’t just happen to you while you are passive. If it did, these three texts would be pointless. Your prayer life in 1994 depends in part — under God and his enabling grace (1 Corinthians 15:10) — on how you choose to live at home and at work and in your private life of solitude.
So another way to state the doctrine we’ve seen in these verses would be: do whatever you must do so that your prayers are not hindered. Form the resolution right now in your heart while I am preaching that you will not be passive about your prayer life this year; that you will take some active steps to make it good.
Why Does It Matter?
Let me ask a question that might increase your incentive to do that. Why does it matter that your prayer life not be hindered? There are a lot of tremendously important answers to that question. Next week we’ll talk about one that relates your little life to the greatness of heaven and the end of the world. But let me give an answer today that lies close to my own experience.
You don’t want your prayers to be hindered because when your prayers are hindered, it means you are not connecting with God, and that God himself starts to seem distant and unreal.Now for an unbeliever who has never known a peaceful, personal walk with God, that would not be so unusual. Unless the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives, they have deadened themselves to it.
But for a person who has known God and loved him, and tasted the sweetness of peace and fellowship, and a sense of being right with God, nothing is more terrifying than the growing feeling that God does not seem to be there anymore.
- To wake up in the morning or to go to bed at night and to lie there and stare at the ceiling and feel, “It’s not real. He’s not listening.”
- To feel all the bolts in your mind are coming loose and it won’t hold still long enough to focus on anything, let alone God. There’s just an uneasy rattling and slipping of instability.
- To try to formulate a prayer and feel utterly phony because your mind is so full of worldly stuff and earthly feelings and fleshly desires that a sweet, peaceful, confident communion with God in prayer seems about as possible as flying to the moon.
These are terrifying experiences for a Christian who has known peace with God, and unhindered communion with him. And so I am saying that Peter wants to spare you that. I want to spare you that. I want to avoid it myself at any price.
Resolve to Take Peter’s Teaching Seriously
So Peter tells us: endeavor to live in a way that does not hinder your prayers.
(Note: it almost goes without saying that this endeavor is not an effort to earn wages from God but is an effort to follow our Good Physician’s loving prescription because we trust him.
) Resolve this morning that during Prayer Week, you will take his teaching seriously and seek to do whatever you need to do to unclog your prayers and set them free.
- It may be that changes need to be made at home. Nothing is more important than unclogging the streams of prayer and power that are clogged at home.
- It may be that changes need to be made in the wider circle of relationships where there is bitterness or guile.
- Or it may be that there are simple awakenings that need to happen concerning the pattern of prayer in your life. When Peter says in 4:7, “Be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the sake of prayers,” he means that there are disciplines of the mind and the spirit which can preserve unhindered prayer in your life.
This I think, is what God wants you to especially hear from this message this morning: make Prayer Week 1994 a week of freshly awakened sound judgment regarding what hinders prayer in your life and a week of sobriety of spirit regarding prayer. Sound mind. Sober spirit.
Jesus Does Not Kiss a Drunk Wife
Jesus does not kiss a drunk wife. He may carry her off the street and back to bed. He may be utterly patient with her, and set before her hot coffee and fresh starts. But he will not kiss a drunk wife.
What do I mean? I mean that when the bride of Christ, the church, is drunk with the world, she may turn to him for a brief kiss of prayer, but her breath reeks so bad of worldliness that he turns his face away.
Nobody Coasts into Sobriety
“Be sober for the sake of your prayers,” Peter says. But whoever sobered up by coasting? Nobody coasts into sobriety. Not physical sobriety, and not spiritual sobriety.
Sobriety happens when we begin to use sound judgment about our lives. Sound judgment about how we spend our time. Sound judgment about the spiritual climate of our homes. Sound judgment about the worldliness of our leisure.
Sound judgment about the music we listen to, the movies we attend, the TV we watch.
“When the spiritual breath begins to clear up, the kiss of prayer is not hindered.”
Nobody sobers up without intentional steps to get the bottles of worldliness off the shelves, the cabinet, and the house. When that happens, then the spiritual breath begins to clear up and the kiss of prayer is not hindered.
Helping Each Other to This End
There are so many ways we can be helpful to each other at this point. There are so many things God has been teaching some of you recently, several of you have told me examples.
I want us tonight to teach and exhort and encourage and if necessary rebuke each other. I invite you to pray this afternoon about what God might be wanting you to say to us this evening. I also invite questions and struggles to be shared.
We need to hear about the real world of warfare that you are waging.
I will share some of the things that help me in the fight for unhindered prayer. But I fully expect that what you say tonight will be what God uses most. Pray. Come. Speak in weakness or in strength. Someone will be here needing exactly what God prompts you to say.
Seven Prayers That Heal the Heart – Adapted for Intercessors Who Are Praying for Others
We prefer to see people do their own prayer work. However there are times when an intercessor may be called upon to pray and intercede for another. This surely is biblical as God has ordained intercession.
Some examples of intercession would include a parent praying for their child, or one praying for their spouse or friend. And we are to pray for those in authority over us, so there is no reason these prayers could not be applied to localities, communities, groups of people, and nations.
Below is an adaptation of the Prayers That Heal the Heart by Mark and Patti Virkler into a format for intercessors.
1. Break generational sins and curses
On behalf of __________, I confess and repent of his/her ancestors’, parents’, and his/her own sin and resulting curses of list all of them .
Please forgive __________, and his/her parents, and help them all to receive Your forgiveness, and to forgive themselves, in Jesus’ Name.
I place the cross of Jesus Christ between __________’s ancestors and parents and __________, as a baby in his/her mother’s womb. I command all these sins and curses to be halted at the cross of Jesus Christ, and for freedom and release from them to flow down from the cross of Jesus Christ to __________ in his/her mother’s womb, in Jesus’ Name.
2. Sever ungodly soul ties
On behalf of __________, I confess and repent of his/her sin of ungodly soul ties with all others, formed at any time throughout his/her life.
Lord, please cut all these ungodly soul ties, and restore the broken or torn portions of his/her soul. Please remove anything that came into him/her through these soul ties, sins and curses, or any other way, and please bring back anything godly that was stolen from him/her, in Jesus’ Name.
3. Renounce negative beliefs and inner vows
On behalf of __________, I confess and repent of any negative beliefs and inner vows that resulted from these sins and curses, and I ask You, Lord, to replace them with countering divine truths, and help __________ to live by these divine truths, in Jesus’ Name. __________ will know the truth and the truth will make him/her free, in Jesus’ Name!
4. Break word curses
On behalf of __________, I confess and repent of him/her receiving any word curses spoken over him/her, and I ask you to help him/her forgive and release himself/herself and others for speaking these word curses over him/her. I break all word curses over __________ right now in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I ask that he/she receive Your divine blessings to replace these word curses, in Jesus’ Name.
5. Pray for release from bitterness and painful memoriesOn behalf of __________, I confess and repent of any anger or bitterness he/she has towards You or others, Lord, for allowing these sins, curses, word curses and soul ties in his/her life. I ask you to forgive him/her and help him/her to forgive himself/herself and all those involved, and to receive Your forgiveness, in Jesus’ Name.
Lord, please help _________ to be released from the emotional power of painful memories and other memories, and to realize that in some cases You may have wanted him/her to move on to a new season in life. Please heal his/her soul wounds, and replace these memories with the knowledge that he/she is loved and cared for by You, in Jesus’ Name.
6. Cast out demons
In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of __________, I renounce and break all agreements with the demons and strongholds of (list all of them).
In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I take authority over and bind the demons and strongholds of list all of them , and I command you to leave __________ now in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do not go into anyone else in the building. Leave the building now, leave the property and leave the area. Leave his/her home now, leave his/her property and leave the area, in Jesus’ Name.
Thank you, Lord, for setting __________ free!
7. Pray for God’s blessings and the infilling of the Holy Spirit
On behalf of __________, I joyfully accept the divine exchange Christ made for him/her on the cross of Calvary. All these sins, curses, word curses, and soul ties are now broken in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I ask You, Lord, to give __________ Your divine blessings in his/her life to replace them, in Jesus’ Name.
Lord, please help __________ to understand that the power to overcome these sins is in You and Your Holy Spirit, not in self-effort, and to turn to You for help in resisting them.
Please help him/her to be (saved, and) filled with the Holy Spirit in order to resist sin in the future. Sin shall have no dominion in __________’s life.Please help __________ to feel conviction and to repent when falling into those old sinful habits, in Jesus’ Name. Thank You, Lord, that whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Amen.
Nearly all of the above prayers are adapted from Mark Virkler’s seven “Prayers That Heal the Heart,” book and CDs. He acknowledges contributions to the prayers “from several ministries. Most of the ministry steps are drawn from Ministry Tools for Restoring the Foundations, Proclaiming His Word, Santa Rosa Beach, FL”
A Few Verses on Deliverance
“Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your Name.” Luke 10:17
“A woman (a gentile) whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him…She kept asking Him to cast the demon her daughter…Then He said to her, ‘For this saying go your way; the demon has gone your daughter.’ And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.” Mark 7:25,26,29,30
“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, 'Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.' And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God…
ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” Luke 13:10-13,16
“I do nothing of Myself (of my own accord or on my own authority), but I say exactly what My Father has taught Me…He Who sent Me is ever with Me.” John 8:28,29
“Cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matt.10:8
Here is a list of demonic strongholds to be mindful of when praying. Most come directly from Mark Virkler’s book, Prayers that Heal the Heart.
Cluster 1: anger, hatred, malice, rage, murder, temper, cursing, vengeance, retaliation, violence, abuse, cruelty, sadism, unforgiveness, bitterness, being judgmental or critical, taking offense easily/ irritability, anger towards men or women, anger towards mother or father, anger towards authority, anger/ resentment towards God
Cluster 2: fear, fear of man, fear of authority, doubt/ unbelief, dread, worry, anxiety, fear the worst will happen, fear of various illnesses such as cancer, fear people will get angry with you or won't you, spirit of false responsibility, spirit of rush
Cluster 3: abandonment, desertion, divorce, rejection, neglect, victimization, blocked intimacy, not valuing people/ relationships/ ending relationships, burning bridges, isolation, loneliness, self-pity
Cluster 4: shame, anger, condemnation, disgrace, embarrassment, guilt, hatred, self-hate, self-pity, withdrawal, hiding/ antisocial. timidity, inferiority
Cluster 5: lying, cheating, theft, deception, trickery, untrustworthiness, adultery, emotional adultery, denial, self-deception, secretiveness, hiding purchases/ activities/ relationships
Cluster 6: financial lack, belief in poverty, robbing God by not tithing, not believing in covenant blessings, greed, covetousness, debt, dishonesty, idolatry of possessions, failure
Cluster 7: addictions, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food, sugar, coffee, chocolate/ sweets, pornography, sex, flirtation, junky magazines/ websites/ TV shows/ movies, overeating, drinking too much alcohol, anything you cannot do in moderation
Cluster 8: sensuality, lust, fantasizing/ coveting another's mate, flirtation, premarital sex, sexual abuse, fornication/ adultery/ emotional adultery, demonic sex, pornography, bondage/ control, rape, incest
Cluster 9: depression, rejection, despair, helplessness, hopelessness, sadness, self-pity, withdrawal, suicide
Cluster 10: grief, sorrow, despair, heartbreak, loss, pain, torment, weeping, anguish, agony
Cluster 11: mental instability, mental illness, compulsions, confusion, hysteria, paranoia, schizophrenia, insanity
Cluster 12: pride, arrogance, disdain, selfishness, control/ pushiness, independence, callousness/ lack of concern for others, gossip
Cluster 13: procrastination, sloth, laziness, distraction/ confusion/ lack of focus, not thinking things through before acting, speaking or writing e-mails, lack of organization/ preparation, lateness/ tardiness, missing appoint-ments/ phone calls