Increasing the Bandwidth of Our Prayers

God stands ready to hear us today but something needs to happen first
4 min read
The more we consider what the Bible has to say about prayer, the more we notice that there's a connection between how we're living and how effective our prayers will be. The idea is not as simple as, "Behave yourself and you'll get everything you ask for," but there is this recurring principle that bases the bandwidth of our prayers on our obedience to God. Let's take a look at it.

One place where the principle comes up is in Peter’s instruction to husbands about how to treat their wives. Peter puts it bluntly:

…Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7, NLT)

That’s pretty clear.

But Peter presents the same idea in the following chapter with a broader application. To the whole church he says:

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)

Again, the idea is that there is linkage between how we choose to live our lives and how impactful our prayers will be. If we seek to live according to God’s will as revealed in His Word, it will make a positive difference in our prayer lives. On the other hand, if we do it our way and fudge on biblical ideals, this will diminish the strength of our prayers, giving them less traction and less resonance in the ears of God.

This concept also comes up in several other places in the Bible. Here’s the classic passage, framed in conditional if/then terms:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

And in the psalms:

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18)

And in Isaiah:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

And John mentions it, too:

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21-22)

See the consistency?

But why does this matter? It matters because in this time of societal upheaval and trauma, like never before we need God to hear us. We have so much to ask of Him. The problems before us are God-sized. No mere mortal is going to fix what’s broken, because what’s broken is the human heart. We need God to do what only He can do. We need Him to graciously intervene.

But for those who are asking favor from God in this way, the line of communication must be wide open and free of interference. Just like an occlusion in an artery blocks blood flow, so an accumulation of sin will cause blockage where we can least afford it – between us and the Supplier of all that’s good.

We must be careful here not to confuse the truth that our access to the Father was forever secured in Jesus Christ. For the person who is willing to come in the name of Jesus, the Throne of Grace is always open and never closed. But we also don’t want to be naive. Unprincipled, unbiblical, self-absorbed living severely weakens the potency of our prayers. It decreases our prayer bandwidth from 5G to 0G just like that.

And that won’t work. Not today. Not ever.

Let’s take a moment this weekend to think about it. Let’s ask God to kindly search our hearts and show us those issues and areas that need some work. Then let’s trust and follow as He gently leads us in a new direction.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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