Sin is a dangerous hinderance to effective praying
'Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.'
According to Rev 5:8, the four living creatures fall before God to worship, holding golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 8:3-5 echoes that the prayers of the saints on earth are offered upon a golden altar before the throne of God.
Verse 4 of the same chapter says 'And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.'
This shows how prayers of God's holy people are received in the holy presence of God. No wonder James 5:16 (b) says that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Psalms 56:8 records that the tears of the righteous are put in God's bottle.
Cornelius' prayers and giving were received as a memorial offering before God. As a result, an angel was sent to him. (Acts 10:4)
If the prayers of saints are so dear to God, why do we pray and not get answers sometimes?
What hinders prayers from getting to the mercy seat?
Sin is the biggest hinderance to effective praying. You cannot be living in sin, or a double life, and still expect to be heard. God is holy. Whatever goes before His holy presence must also be holy.
According to John 9:31, God does not hear sinners. He hears only those that carry out His will.
A sinner will only be heard if they are repenting.
There are things you will do and God will be silent. Remember that He sees them. He will still rebuke you and set them in order before your eyes. (Ps 50:21)
Isaiah 1:15-16 records that God detests sin so much, that when the sinful pray he looks elsewhere. Prolonged prayers of a sinful man are all in vain.
The Scriptures categorically state that sinning when we should not, is trampling Jesus underfoot, counting the blood of Covenant, by which we were saved, a common thing, and insulting the Spirit of Grace. (Heb 10:29)
It is inquities that separate us from God, and cause Him to hide His face from us (Isaiah 59:2)
In Psalms 66:18-19, David cites that he was heard by God because he did not cherish sin in his heart.
Remember that righteousness is categorized into:
Purity of the heart
Purity of Actions
Purity of the Mind
You must, therefore, sanctify yourself to be heard by God. James 4:8
1 John 3:22 'And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.'
To be heard by God, we must see sin as He sees it.