10 Hindrances to Prayer By Dr. David P. Craig

Just as we have a hard time communicating with someone we have hurt, or who has hurt us, oftentimes we sense that our prayers our bouncing off the ceiling and God is far away. When God seems distant and we are out of fellowship with Him it appears that our prayers are being hindered – because they are! The problem in this case is NEVER with God – it’s ALWAYS with us. God is perfect, transcendent and immanent [near, operating within] in His presence and activity. Therefore, when we feel that God is distant – it’s very important that we evaluate every possible hindrance to our prayers. Here are several passages of Scripture that elucidate hindrances to our effective communication and fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Take the time to prayerfully consider and evaluate your walk with Him. Remember that God is quick to forgive and wants to draw near to you as you draw near to Him.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8a

(1) Carnal motives – “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).

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

(3) Concealing Sin“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

(4) Domestic Disputing“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” (1 Peter 3:7).

(5) Hypocrisy“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward” (Matthew 6:5).

(6) Ignoring God’s Law“If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).

(7) Pride  – “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14)

(8) Robbing God“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:8-10).

(9) Unbelief“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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” (James 1:5-6).

(10) Withholding Forgiveness“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:12-15).

12 Benefits of Attending Church Each Week: By Dr. David P Craig

(1) It shows respect for the best day of the week – the Lord’s Day, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.

(2) It is a great step toward spiritual growth and Christ-likeness.

(3) It makes you a covenant keeper in your commitment to God and to the local church where you are a member.

(4) It demonstrates your strong support for the future of your church.

(5) It is an excellent example and witness to unbelievers when they see your consistency in church attendance.

(6) It is an encouragement to others in the body when they see how changed and energized you are through Christ and fellowship in His body.

(7) It is an encouragement to the leaders and workers in the church who serve you.

(8) It encourages and pleases God the Holy Spirit who has equipped us to serve in His church.

(9) It provides hope and strength to press on for Christ throughout the week.

(10) It shows a spirit of submission and obedience to God.

(11) It shows love and affection for God by wanting to spend the first day of the week with Him.

(12) It makes the family of God more effective and complete when all the members of the family are present.

(Not to mention all the Biblical references to giving, hearing the preaching of the Word, baptism, participating in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, using your spiritual gifts, making disciples, etc.)

Also this is perhaps one of the best reasons I’ve heard from Dr. Paul Tripp: “Why should you go to church this morning? Because corporate worship is designed to counteract the false gospels you hear every day with the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How Christian Coaching Can Help You? By Dr. Gary R. Collins

After being a senior pastor for over twenty years and now being a full-time “Pastoral Life Coach” I’m often asked by people – “What is life coaching and how is it different from counseling?” I don’t think I’ve come across a better answer for this than that of *Gary R. Collins in Appendix C in his fantastic book Christian Coaching, published by NavPress, Colorado Springs: 2009. Gary Collins describes almost perfectly what I seek to do with those I coach:


 What is coaching?

The first time it was ever used, the word coach described a horse-drawn vehicle—a stagecoach that would get people from where they were to where they wanted to be. A modern bus does the same thing, and often these vehicles are called coaches. Most often today, coaches are people who help athletes and teams more from one place to another that is better and where they want to be. Even Tiger Woods has a coach to help his game of golf.

But coaches also help musicians, public speakers, and actors, who rely on coaching to improve their skills, overcome obstacles, remain focused, and get to be where they want to be. Coaching is very popular in business and corporate settings around the world where “executive coaches” help managers and other business leaders deal with change, develop new management styles, make wise decisions, become more effective, cope with their hyperactive lifestyles, and deal with stress.

Executive coaches work with people in business to help them move from where they are to levels where they are more competent, fulfilled, and self-confident than they would have been otherwise.

In summary, coaches guide people from where they are toward the greater competence and fulfillment they desire. Christian coaching is the art and practice of working with a person or group in the process of moving from where they are to where God wants them to be {My [DPC] own definition is similar, “Christian Coaching is taking a person from where they are to where God wants them to be in reflecting the image of Christ.”}.

Why would anybody want a coach?

 Coaching helps people who want to:

  • Get unstuck

  • Build their confidence

  • Expand their vision for the future

  • Fulfill their dreams

  • Unlock their potential

  • Increase their skills

  • Move through transitions

  • Take practical steps toward their goals

How does coaching differ from counseling? 

  • Unlike counseling or therapy, coaching is less threatening, less about problem solving, more about helping people reach their potential.

  • Coaching is not for people who need therapy to overcome painful influences from the past; coaches help people build vision and move toward the future.

  • Coaching is not about looking back; it’s about looking ahead.

  • Coaching is not about healing; it’s about growing.

  • Coaching focuses less on overcoming weaknesses and more on building skills and strengths.

  • Usually coaching is less formal than the counselor/counselee relationship; more often it is a partnership between two equals, one of whom has experiences, perspectives, skills, or knowledge that can be useful to the other.

What do coaches do to help others? 

Coaches stimulate better skills. Good coaching helps people anticipate what they could become, overcome self-defeating habits or insecurities, manage relationships, develop new competencies, and build effective ways to keep improving.

Coaches stimulate vision. Many individuals and churches have no clear vision. They keep doing what they have done for years, without much change and with little expectation that things will ever be different. Coaches work with individuals and organizations (including churches) as they think beyond the present, more clearly envision the future, and plan how to get there.

Coaches help people grow through life transitions. Whenever we encounter major changes in our lives—such as a new job, a promotion, a move, the death of a loved one, the launch of a new career, or retirement—we face uncertainty and the need to readjust. Experienced coaches better enable people to reassess their life goals, find new career options, change lifestyles, get training, reevaluate their finances, or find information so they can make wise decisions.

Coaches guide Christians in their spiritual journeys. Many believers understand the basics of the faith and aren’t looking to be discipled. But they need focused time with somebody who has been on the spiritual road longer, who models Christlikeness, can point out the barriers to growth, and can guide the journey.

Coaches speak the truth in love. Good coaches know that sometimes the best way to help is by refusing to ignore harmful behavior patterns. Instead, coaches nudge people to deal with attitudes and behavior that should be faced and changed.

What happens in coaching?

Coaching is a relationship that most often is client centered and goal directed. Every coaching situation is unique, but usually coaches will begin by exploring the issues that the person wants to change. In what areas does he or she want to grow? Sometimes the person wants to be a better leader, better self-manager, or someone with a clearer perspective about where to go in the future. Christians in coaching may seek to determine where God appears to be leading them to go.

There is also the need for better awareness of where the person is at present. What are his or her strengths, weaknesses, abilities, interests, passions, spiritual gifts, values, worldviews, and hopes? Often the coach will use assessment tools to enable people to learn more about themselves.

Then comes vision. Coaches might assist people, organizations, or churches in formulating life-vision or life-mission statements. Coaches might ask, for example, “Considering your gifts, abilities, driving passions, and unique God-given personality, what is your life mission?” It takes time to answer a question like that, but without a clear vision, people, churches, organizations, and even governments tend to drift with no direction.

At some time, coaches will help people set goals and plan ways to reach these goals.

When obstacles get in the way, coaches challenge, encourage, and give accountability so the person can get past the obstacles and experience success. A coach can help you remove the blinders, allowing you to see what you may not recognize and give support as you move forward. A Christian coach is there for you, prayerfully listening to your concerns and asking questions that will give you clarity on your situation, get you past your own blocks, realize your God-given potential, and challenge you to be your best.

{DPC I’d like to add my two cents about the coaching I do – I love coaching it allows me to focus on the specific needs of individuals and organizations and intentionally help them become Christ focused and thus more strategic and effective in that which truly satisfies and will last forever. The primary means I use to help people in coaching is by helping individuals develop what I call a ‘Vertical Life Plan.” A VLP is a personalized goal plan to integrate all of life holistically centered in and around Jesus as your Leader, and you as a devoted follower of Him as your Savior and Lord.  If you are interested in personal or organizational life coaching I’d love to hear how I can serve you – Dr. David P Craig – I can best be reached at: LifeCoach4God@gmail.com}

*Gary R. Collins is a licensed clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University. He is the author of numerous articles and over 50 books, including Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, The Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling, and Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality. Gary was general editor of the thirty-volume Resources for Christian Counseling series of professional counseling books mostly published in the 1980s, the Word Christian Counseling Library of cassette tapes, and the twelve-volume Contemporary Christian Counseling series of books that appeared in the early 1990’s.

In December 2001 NavPress published Gary’s book Christian Coaching, a book that has been revised, expanded, updated, and published in 2009. The third edition of Christian Counseling (revised, expanded and completely updated) was published by Thomas Nelson publishers in 2007, followed by an accompanying Casebook of Christian Counseling, also published by Nelson.

Gary Collins grew up in Canada and graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and the University of Toronto before taking a year of study at the University of London. His first teaching occurred during that year as he taught courses for the University of Maryland in Germany and England. Gary spent several years in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve before moving to the United States to study clinical psychology at Purdue University. He took his clinical psychology internship at the University of Oregon Medical School Hospitals (now University of Oregon Health Sciences University) in Portland and subsequently enrolled at Western Seminary for a year of theological study.

At Western he met his wife Julie. They were married in 1964 and moved to Minnesota where Gary taught psychology at Bethel College in St. Paul. Their two daughters, Lynn and Jan were born in Minnesota. After a year on the faculty of Conwell School of Theology in Philadelphia, the Collins family moved to Illinois where Gary taught psychology and counseling at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. For much of that time he was department chairman.

In 1991, Gary assumed responsibility for co-leading the fledgling American Association of Christian Counselors. In the seven years that followed, Gary was AACC Executive Director and later the organization’s first President. During that time AACC grew from about 700 paid members to more than 15,000. In addition to these duties, Gary founded Christian Counseling Today, the official AACC magazine which he edited for several years. In October, 1998 Gary Collins resigned from his responsibilities with AACC so he could devote more time to developing Christian counseling and Christian coaching worldwide. In addition to his other responsibilities, he currently holds a position as Distinguished Professor of Coaching and Leadership at Richmont Graduate University (formerly Psychological Studies Institute) in Atlanta and Chattanooga. In addition he is Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology and Counseling at Regent University in Virginia where he consults with the faculty and annually teaches an accredited on-line doctoral course in coaching.

Gary has accepted invitations to speak in more than fifty countries and he continues to travel overseas and within North America to give lectures and lead workshops on Christian counseling, leadership, and Christian coaching. Gary also has a small coaching practice, writes the weekly Gary R. Collins Newsletter, and mentors a number of young, emergent leaders. He is active in a local fitness center, is blessed with boundless energy and good health, and has no plans to retire. Gary and Julie Collins live in northern Illinois, not far from their two daughters, their son-in-law, and their grandson Colin Angus McAlister.

12 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Listening to Biblical Preaching by Dr. David P. Craig

(1) Only those who have been saved from sin by grace through faith in Christ can truly understand the truth of God’s Word.

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” … “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 13:5 & 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

(2) A Commitment to listening to Biblical Preaching helps you grow spiritually.

“Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth.” – John 17:17

“You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for nourishment as a baby cries for milk.” – 1 Peter 2:2

“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:13

(3) Confess and Forsake your sins continually.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

(4) Through prayer and disciplined thought, adjust your attitude prior to the service so that you expect to hear exciting and life-changing truths from God’s Word.

“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your law. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your commandments. Give discernment to me, your servant; then I will understand your decrees. I rejoice in your word like one who finds great treasure.” -Psalm 119:18, 40, 125, 162

(5) Eliminate any potential distractions that might hinder your attentiveness during the message.

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” – Romans 13:14

(6) Make a concerted effort during the worship service to understand and retain as much as you can from the teaching by taking notes and writing down in your own words the primary lessons you learn and the questions raised in your mind.

“I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” – Psalm 119:11

(7) Practice and develop your skills of discernment by examining the teaching carefully, but remember to maintain a humble, teachable spirit.

“Now these [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” – Acts 17:11

(8) Discuss the message after the service & throughout the week with other Christians, asking them questions and sharing the encouragement and challenges you received.

“I am fully convinced, dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well that you are able to teach others all about them.” – Romans 15:14

“Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24

(9) Study the passage or topic further by discussing it with the teacher/preacher or another knowledgeable Christian, and by referring to commentaries or other reference books on the topic.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15

(10) Purpose in your heart to make any changes necessary as a result of what you have learned, pray about those changes and practice them daily (see James 1:22-25; Hebrews 13:7-17)

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22

(11) Devote yourself to supporting those who teach you.

“Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his teacher.” Galatians 6:6

“Christian workers should be paid by those they serve.” – 1 Corinthians 9:10b

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give many opportunities to preach about His secret plan—that is also for you Gentiles. That’s why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I ought.” – Colossians 4:2-4

(12) Prepare yourself for the message the night before by getting to bed early. Also, by rising early enough to have plenty of time to get ready for a smooth ride to church (plan for a peaceful rather than a stressful rushed morning).