It can be a test of our faith when prayers go unanswered. Everyone needs encouragement and sometimes weeks and even years can pass by while waiting for a particular request made to our compassionate Lord. However, God gives us many graces and teaches us that there are lessons that unanswered prayers can provide. It is important to endure and never lose heart but there are times when we, as the architects of our praying, have sabotaged our own prayers.

Here are a few biblical hindrances that should be avoided. 

Abstaining from praying for your enemies.

While it can be difficult to forgive one’s enemies, it is a truly noble and altruistic act. Humans are susceptible to wanting vindication and it can feel unnatural to pray for people who have done us harm. However, Jesus himself told his followers to pray for his enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Not only does Jesus avoid suggesting that we ignore or even like the people who do us wrong, he actually tells us to bring them to the throne of God through our prayers and to bless them. It is important that we treat our enemies with kindness. Refuse to gossip or become bitter and instead look at everyone through a lens of compassion. Praying will soften your heart and allow you to become more like Christ.

Forgetting prayers in a time of lamentation.

It can be easy to feel distracted and distressed about the current state of the world. There are people all over the globe who are experiencing things such as hunger, terror, and pain. However, lament is a tool that God provides to people so that they can better navigate pain and suffering. Lament is a vital prairie for people of God because it allows you to ask Him to help deliver you from distress, pain, and suffering. 

Avoid becoming hopeless or distracted. Even in sadness, you can worship God in prayer. Make sure to find the time each day to speak with God and ask him to assist you in battling the trials and tribulations that you face. Remember that you are never alone and pour out your heart in lament to God.

“I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end, he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eye- I, and not another. How my heart years within me!”

(Job 19:25-27)

This blog was originally published on Mark Smith’s website.