June 30 Putting Prayer into Practice

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God  and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 1John 3:20-22

As you seek to remove hindrances to prayer from your life, ask yourself these questions: Is anything in my life keeping me from a clear conscience and unbroken fellowship with God? Have I accepted God’s forgiveness, or am I holding on to past sins and guilt? Have I recognized that I am a child of God? What are my motives for praying? Am I harboring bitterness toward anyone?

Now, take some steps to overcome these hindrances. If you are plagued with feelings of condemnation, consciously replace these feelings with what the Word of God says about God’s love and forgiveness toward you. If your relationships need mending, ask God to help you release your bitterness. Take a step toward repairing a broken relationship by forgiving someone or asking for forgiveness. Write down anything you have put before God, such as money, a relationship, or your career. Offer it to God and renew your love and commitment to Him, spending time in worship and acknowledging His Fatherhood and sovereignty.

Let’s pray together: Prayer: Heavenly Father, as Your Word says, we are burdened by things that hinder us spiritually and emotionally, and we too easily become entangled with sin.

These encumbrances keep us from having a joyful, unbroken relationship with You and with our families, friends, and coworkers. Enable us to have a true understanding of who we are in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us

to clear away every hindrance so we can live freely as Your children and pray in harmony with Your will and purposes. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who is our Burden-Bearer— who has carried our sins and sorrows, who has healed us

by His wounds, and whose suffering on our behalf brought us peace with You. Amen.

Thought: “By his wounds we are healed.”

Reading: 2 Chronicles 10–12; John 11:30–57

June 29  Idols of the Heart

Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Ezekiel 14:3

In this sobering verse, God is saying, “I will not answer your prayers if you are seeking idols.” He is referring to idols of the heart. We must be careful not to set up idols in our lives, however subtle they may be. An idol is anything we give higher priority than God. We live in a culture filled with potential idols—things we make so important that we push God and His purposes for us to the back burner.

For example, we often make idols out of wealth or possessions. This can make us greedy or stingy, and an ungenerous heart hinders prayer. “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” How can we ask God to meet our needs if we’re not concerned about the needs of the less fortunate? If we are compassionate and generous, our prayers will be answered. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”.

Idols can displace God from His rightful place in our lives if we don’t examine our priorities. God deserves our utmost love, devotion, and respect. “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”

(Deuteronomy 6:5). Let us determine, through God’s grace, to remove all idols from our lives so we can truly love God and others—and have confident and effective prayer.

Prayer: Father, please help me by Your grace to remove idols from my heart. I want to love You and show Your love to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thought: Let us throw off everything that hinders us.

Reading: 2 Chronicles 7–9; John 11:1–29; Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 21:13

June 28 Do Your Relationships Need to Be Repaired?

Husbands,  in  the  same  way  be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Peter was saying, “Husbands, treat your wives with understanding, and don’t let there be any animosity between you, or your prayers will be hindered. 1Peter  3:7

Broken relationships hinder prayer. Peter specifically addressed husbands, but the same principle applies to relationships between all family members. As believers, we are to demonstrate the nature of God to one another. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” If we do not practice the same compassion, grace, mercy, and love to others, we misrepresent God. How can we ask Him to answer our prayers and fulfill His purposes when we violate those very purposes in our treatment of others?

 “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.” God is saying to us, “Reconcile your broken relationships at home before you come to church to pray.” We are to put our relationships right first, and then go to worship the Lord.

Prayer: Father, my family relationships are so important. Please help me to forgive others so that I can maintain communion with my loved ones and with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thought: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Reading: 2 Chronicles 4–6; John 10:24–42; Psalm 103:8– 10; Matthew 5:23–24

June 27  Forgive as You Are Forgiven

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25

An unforgiving spirit can be a destructive presence in our lives, even when we don’t realize we’re harboring one. Have you forgiven your ex-husband, ex-wife, or whoever makes you angry every time you think about him or her? What about someone on the job who wronged you—someone you’re still mad at after three weeks, three months, or three years?

Nurturing an unforgiving spirit can block your prayer life. The Bible says, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” . Withholding forgiveness does not reflect the character of Christ, and it demonstrates ingratitude for the vast forgiveness God has given you.

Jesus made this point in the parable of the unforgiving servant in. In this story, the king forgives one of his servants and cancels a great debt he owed him. However, this same servant refuses to forgive a fellow servant of a lesser debt. In the end, the king throws the first servant into jail for his lack of mercy. Jesus concludes by warning His disciples, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (v. 35). Withholding forgiveness is a serious matter. You need to forgive others if you want God to forgive you and to hear your prayers.

Prayer: Father, I do not want to be captive to an unforgiving spirit. Help me forgive everyone who wrongs me with the same forgiveness that You have offered me in Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thought: Withholding forgiveness does not reflect the character of Christ. Reading: 2 Chronicles 1–3; John 10:1–23; Ephesians 4:26–27; Matthew 18:23–35

June 26 The Danger of Bitterness

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15

Bitterness is dangerous, especially in regard to prayer. Bitterness accumulates when you withhold forgiveness. It often indicates a hidden hatred that hurts you more than it does the other person. When you harbor bitterness, it goes to the very source of your life and dries it up. You will not only suffer spiritually, but you will also wither mentally, socially, and physically. Bitterness is like a cancer.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity [perversity, moral evil] in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”. Iniquity is a secret sin—not because it’s something you commit in private, but because it’s unseen and intangible, such as having jealousy in your heart. You may smile at someone to conceal that you are envious of him. You may hug somebody you despise and say, “God bless you.” This is iniquity. If we willfully hold such things in our hearts, it doesn’t matter how long we pray; God won’t listen.

Bitterness is an especially hideous, dangerous sin. To guard against this sin and keep our prayers from being hindered, we must maintain pure, transparent hearts before God and men. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you”.

Prayer: Father, I never want to open my heart to bitterness. Please convict me of any sins of jealousy and unforgiveness that I may be hiding. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thought: Bitterness can grow like a deep root into our hearts.

Reading: 1 Chronicles 28–29; John 9:24–41; Ephesians 4:31–32

June 25 What Are Your Motives?

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3

What  motivates  you  to  pray?  Are you  asking  God  for something just to boost your own ego or to achieve other selfish purposes, or are you asking God to fulfill His Word so that His kingdom can come on the earth? If your motives are wrong, your prayers will be hindered.

God knows we have needs, and it’s not wrong to ask Him to fulfill them based on His Word. Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Yet our main focus should be honoring God and promoting His purposes. When our priorities are right, we can trust Him to meet our daily needs. Jesus promised us, Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. When you pray, ask God to forgive you for any impure motives and to enable you to develop the right motives through the work of the Holy Spirit. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”.

Prayer: Father, please check the motives of my heart. Reveal when I pray with impure motives, so that I might confess them. I want to make Your purposes my own. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thought: God is the one who enables us to have the right motives.

Reading: 1 Chronicles 25–27; John 9:1–23; Matthew 6:31–33; Philippians 2:13