We must understand that our thoughts and actions can hinder the effectiveness of our prayers.
In James 4.1-3, we are told that when we pray with impure or selfish motives, God does not hear our prayers. James writes, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
In 1 Peter 3.7, we are told that the ill treatment of one's spouse may hinder one's prayers. Peter writes, "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."
In 1 Samuel 28.18, King Saul is told that his prayers were not heard by God because of Saul's disobedience. Samuel tells him, "Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today."
In Isaiah 58 the people of Israel wander why God has not heard their prayers and answered them. The gist of God's response to this charge is that the people have come to him very insincerely and full or arrogance and self-interest and not in humility and worshipful reverence. God, through his prophet, says, "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
In Matthew 6.5-8, Jesus says, "And when you pray do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. . . . But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Let us approach God with himility, sincerity, transparency, and a deep-abiding faith.