I used to drive a 1963 Volkswagen Microbus. It was already well used when I bought it for $1,000.
Like most Volkswagens, it wasn’t known for its powerful engine. In fact, it had a rebuilt 36-horsepower engine in it. You should have seen us trying to get up hills in that thing. Everyone onboard had to lean forward, or we didn’t make it!
One day the engine shut down on me. I mean, it stopped cold and I couldn’t get it restarted. So I had a mechanic look at it. Almost immediately he identified the problem. He pointed to a little screw with a hole in it—almost as small as the eye of a needle—and he said, “The fuel passes through that. You have a piece of dirt in there.”
So he flushed out the dirt, screwed it back in, and it fired right up! A small speck of dirt had clogged the fuel passage and shut down the whole engine… stopping all forward progress.
I think a little bit of dirt in our relationships can do the same thing to our faith. And it can certainly hinder our prayers.
In fact, the number one reason Jesus cites for unanswered prayer—or why our faith fails to touch God’s heart and bring about a desired answer—is fractured relationships.
When the dirt of strife, unforgiveness, selfishness, or dishonesty clogs our relationships with Him and others, it hinders God’s work in our life.
If my prayers aren’t getting answered, the first thing I do is check to see if there’s anything negative in my heart toward someone. In Matthew 18:34-35, Jesus went so far as to say that people are actually in the hands of the tormenter until relationships are made right and forgiveness is issued.
This is such a vital issue to living a thriving spiritual life—and it’s one we read about in Ephesians chapters 5 and 6, which highlight the importance and power of positive relationships.
A careful look at these two chapters will reveal that chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 deal with right relationships… with God, between husband and wife, between children and parents, and with those with whom we work.
It’s only then—after talking about getting your relationships right—that Paul continues to say in Ephesians 6:10-11…
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Paul goes on to outline the armor you and I are to don if we’re to withstand the attacks of the devil… including faith, the Word of God, and prayer.
God wants you and me to understand that we can’t successfully resist the devil until our relationships are made right with God, our spouse, our kids, people at school and at work, and those in our church family.
Only then can we can stand against the wiles of the devil. Only then can you and I lift the shield of faith to make prayer and supplication in the Spirit using the Word of God.
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