What are things that believers can do that can hinder their prayers and how do one's prayers get hindered or un-hindered? How does that all work?

I know of at least one thing: being harsh with your wife. But I'm looking for more. This was the verse that got me thinking about the concept of prayers being hindered in the first place. It makes me think that this verse can be taken in a broader context beyond just husband and wife, but I'm not sure how.

1 Peter 3:7 ESV Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

PS: It would seem rather unfair if only my prayers as a husband would be hindered for being harsh with my wife but her prayer travels are untouched when she is harsh with me :)

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    Peter would say, based upon the several verses preceding the verse you quote, that her prayers won't be hindered by being harsh with you, because she is to be submissive. One parallel here is Jesus' teaching that if you are making an offering, and remember that you are in conflict with someone else, that you first resolve the conflict, and then make the offering. In like manner, if you were harsh with your wife, first resolve that issue with her, and then offer your prayer. – brasshat Jul 3 '14 at 12:10
  • I think this one needs to be narrowed. There are a vast number of opinions on what prayer does, how it works, when it works, and what it even is. This is just too broad and leaving it as "What else does the Bible say?" leaves us with answers like this. Not very useful to anyone. – fгedsbend Jul 3 '14 at 18:59
  • @fredsbend That is a good point! However, I don't think I'm asking "Tell me where all the verses in the bible are about prayers being hindered." I'm asking how they're hindered at all. This is where scriptural implication comes in. I thought was on a very good track and I'd love to see him expand more on that. – LCIII Jul 3 '14 at 19:05
  • @brasshat I like the parallel you bring up. That is what I'm looking for. I think another good example would probably be Saul. – LCIII Jul 3 '14 at 19:08

As well as 1 Peter 3:7 that you cite where dishonoring your wife is identified as a hindrance to prayer, the following scriptures are relevant in answer to your question:

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

Comparing different translations for the meaning of 'cherished iniquity' may be helpful, but it would not be a stretch to interpret this as: Unrepented sin is a hindrance to effective prayer.

9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven...12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:9-15 ESV

So this is more specific: God won't heed our prayers for receiving forgiveness if we harbor unforgiveness towards others.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; - James 1:5-7 ESV

The context is asking for wisdom, but there seems to be no reason why the underlying principle is not more general (cf. Mark 11:24): Doubt is a hindrance to effective prayer.

There are actually many more principles, but I would refer serious enquirers to the works of E.M. Bounds or Leonard Ravenhill rather than an exhaustive (and over-long for this forum) analysis.


I have extensive Bible software that can search several versions at the same time. There is no other verse that talks about hindering your prayers. While there may be other factors that do indeed affect your prayer life(ie., hidden sin) there is no verse that says so right out.

  • Thank you for researching that, however I'm not looking strictly for "Find me all the verses that mention prayer hindrance", it's "How do we hinder our own prayers?" Brasshat's comment above gives a very insightful start and the one I think we'll need to answer this. – LCIII Jul 3 '14 at 19:07

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