1 Peter 3:1-7
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word…
I. First, there is such a thing as being HINDERED FROM PRAYER.
1. That may be done by falling into a generally lax, lukewarm condition in reference to the things of God. When a sick man is in a decline his lungs suffer and his voice; and so when a Christian is in a spiritual decline the breath of prayer is affected, and the cry of supplication becomes weak.
2. Prayers may be hindered by having too much to do. In this age this is a very common occurrence. We may have too much business for ourselves. The rich man in the parable had no time for prayer, for he was busy in planning new barns, but he had to find time for dying when the Lord said, "This night shall thy soul be required of thee." We may even have too much to do in God's house, and so hinder our prayers, by being like Martha, cumbered with much serving. I never heard of anyone who was cumbered with much praying.
3. There can be no doubt, also, that prayer is hindered by having too little to do.
4. very large proportion of Christians do too little. God has given them enough wealth to be able to retire from business; they have time upon their hands, and they have even to invent ways of spending that time. I wish that all could say with one of the Lord's saints, "Prayer is my business and praise is my pleasure"; but I am sure they never will till the zeal of the Lord's house shall more fully consume them.
5. Some people hinder their prayers, again, by a want of order. They get up a little too late, and they have to chase their work all' the day and never overtake it, but are always in a flurry, one duty tripping up the heels of another.
II. Secondly, we must watch that we be not HINDERED IN PRAYER, when we are really engaged in that holy work.
1. Let us note that some are hindered in prayer by selecting an unfit time and place. There are times when you may expect a knock at your own door, do not just then knock at God's door. There are times that are demanded of you by the necessities of the household and your lawful calling; these are already the Lord's in another way, let them be used for their own purpose. Give to God and prayer those suitable times in which you can reasonably expect to be alone. A pious lad who had no place at home to pray in, went to the stable and climbed up into the hayloft; but very soon some one came up the ladder and interrupted him: the next time he took care to pull the ladder up after him, a very useful hint for us. Select the fittest time and place, that your prayers be not hindered.
2. Worldly cares are frequent and most mischievous hindrances to prayer. A Christian man should be the most careful man in the world, and yet without carefulness. Oh, for more grace and less worry! More praying and less hoarding! More intercession and less speculating! As it is, prayers are sadly hindered.
3. Earthly pleasures, especially of a dubious kind, are the worst of hindrances. How can you come home from frivolity and sin and then look into the face of Jesus? How can the fashions of the world be followed, and communion with God be maintained?
4. Further, prayers may be hindered equally much by worldly sorrow. It is right to be sorrowful, for God intends that affliction should be grievous, and not joyous; but when sorrow is right it will drive us to prayer, and not drive us from it; and when we find our grief at the loss of some dear child, or at the decay of our property, hinders our prayers, I think we should say to ourselves, "Now I must pray; for it must be wrong for me to be so rebellious against my Father as to refuse to ask anything at His hands."
5. There are cases in which prayer is very greatly hindered by bad temper. We cannot pray for forgiveness unless we forgive the trespasses of others against us. Prayer can be very terribly hindered in three ways: if we dishonour the Father to whom we pray, or the Son through whom we pray, or the Holy Ghost by whom we pray.
III. We may be HINDERED IN THE SPEEDING OF OUR PRAYERS. We may pray, but yet the prayer may not be heard.
1. First, there must be holy living in a believer if his prayers are greatly to succeed with God. If you do not do Christ's will He will not do your will.
2. In addition to obedience there must be faith. The prayer which avails most with God is the prayer of one who believes that God will hear him, and who therefore asks with confidence.
3. Thirdly, there must be holy desires, or else prayer will be a failure; and those desires must be founded on a promise. There is no use in asking money of a banker without a cheque: at the counter they do not know you; they know the promise to pay, and if you present that you will get the amount, but not else.
4. Furthermore; if prayer is to speed, there must be fervour and importunity. The arrow must be put on the bowstring, and the bow must be drawn with all our might.
5. There must be, next, a desire for God's glory — for that is the white of the target — and if we do not shoot towards that, the arrow will avail nothing.
6. We must also have holy expectancy, or we shall hinder prayer. The man who shoots must look to see where his arrow goes. We must direct our prayer unto God, and look up. Presumption in prayer shoots with the bow of self-confidence, not for God's glory, but for the gratification of itself, and therefore it fails. Some have the idea that, ask what they like of God, they are sure to have it: but I would ask them, first, "Who are you?" secondly, "What is it you are going to ask?" and, thirdly, "What right have you to expect it?" These inquiries must be clearly answered, otherwise prayer may be an insult to God. Straightforward transactions you may pray about, but do not mix up the Lord with your financing. I am requested to pray for a young man who has lost his situation, through a defalcation, that he may get another place, but instead of doing so I suggest that he should himself pray to be made honest.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;